Resources, banks firmer on indifferent day

The sharemarket finished mildly higher as investors took their cues from Japan, amid renewed interest in local mining stocks.

The sharemarket finished mildly higher as investors took their cues from Japan, amid renewed interest in local mining stocks.

At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was 14.1 points, or 0.29 per cent, higher at 4905.5. The broader All Ordinaries Index was 13.5 points, or 0.28 per cent, firmer at 4912.7.

The Tokyo market surged by as much as 3.5 per cent during the trading day as a further drop in the yen ignited the buying of Japanese shares.

And Australian investors brushed aside negative sentiment following the release of weak US employment figures last Friday.

EL & C Baillieu Stockbroking director Richard Morrow said the strength of the Japanese market and investor interest in commodities supported the Australian market.

"A bit of that is rubbing off onto us today in the absence of anything enormously bearish coming from the northern hemisphere," Mr Morrow said.

Local stocks suffered falls last week, prompting investors to jump back into gold and base-metal stocks on Monday, despite soft commodity prices.

Resource stocks were among the strongest performers, with the market's biggest stock, BHP Billiton, up 42¢, or 1.3 per cent, at $32.66.

Fortescue Metals was 1¢ higher at $3.58 and Rio Tinto shed 76¢ to $54.84.

Gold stocks performed strongly, with Newcrest surging 38¢ to $19.18 and Alacer Gold gaining 9¢, or 2.6 per cent, to $3.59.

The four big banks all rose, with ANZ up 11¢ at $27.86, Westpac 27¢ higher at $30.52 and CBA 9¢ up at $67.02.

NAB gained 1¢ to $30.58.

Insurer and lender Suncorp was 15¢, or 1.3 per cent, weaker at $11.55, and Macquarie Group was 63¢, or 1.7 per cent, down at $36.

The price of gold in Sydney was $US1579.25 an ounce, up $US27.85 on Friday's close of $US1551.40.

National turnover was 1.58 billion securities worth $3.91 billion.

The dollar finished lower after disappointing US jobs figures and weakness in the yen.

At 5pm on Monday, the currency was at US103.79¢, down from Friday's local close of US104.15¢.

Easy Forex senior currency dealer Francisco Solar said the dollar lifted from its lows during Monday's local session after falling to US103.49¢ but traded in a relatively narrow range.

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