Rumours fly as investors brace for budget

The sharemarket closed higher after a volatile day of trading due to the federal budget.

The sharemarket closed higher after a volatile day of trading due to the federal budget.

At the close on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 10.7 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5221. The broader All Ordinaries Index was 7.7 points, or 0.15 per cent, stronger at 5202.5.

The June share price index futures contract was 23 points higher at 5229, with 17,612 contracts traded.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Craig Walker said the local market had been all over the place in anticipation of the budget.

"There's a few rumours flying around about how that budget might affect different sectors," he said. "The main one that will come into question is healthcare and any possible changes that may be made to superannuation."

Primary Health Care shares fell 4¢ to $5.03 after news that the federal government was tipped to place an indexation freeze on Medicare payments to doctors.

The resource sector closed mixed. BHP Billiton gained 12¢ to $34.67 and Rio Tinto lost 4¢ to $57.55. Miner Fortescue Mining tumbled 9¢ to $3.74.

Gold stocks were weak, with Newcrest taking a 41¢ dive to $16.33.

The big banks also had a mixed day. ANZ dived 20¢ to $29.89, National Australia Bank lost 8¢ to $33.10 and Westpac declined 5¢ to $31.75. But Commonwealth Bank surged 95¢ to $72.09.

Macmahon Holdings' shares shot up 4.5¢, or 25.7 per cent, to 22¢ after the mining services company detailed positive growth in a "changing and challenging environment".

The price of gold in Sydney was $US1438.80 an ounce, up $US3.65 on Monday's closing price.

National turnover was 1.72 billion securities worth $4.97 billion.

The Australian dollar is trading slightly below parity with the US dollar as commodities prices fell after weaker than expected Chinese data. The dollar was trading at US99.79¢, down from Monday's close of US100¢.

JPMorgan currency analyst Anna Hibino said the weakness was not attributable to domestic factors. "Part of it has to do with slightly weaker numbers from China on Tuesday and commodity prices are a bit off," she said.

China reported a 9.3 per cent rise in industrial output for April, just below the 9.5 per cent level expected by economists.

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