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Shares bounce as bargain hunters swoop

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, buoyed by bargain hunters who helped to make up ground from the previous day's loss.

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, buoyed by bargain hunters who helped to make up ground from the previous day's loss.

Official figures showing slower-than-expected wages growth helped calm inflationary expectations and also provided a boost for investors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 56.6 points, or 1.33 per cent, to 4303.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 54.5 points, or 1.26 per cent, to 4371.8.

Macquarie Private Wealth director Lucinda Chan said Bureau of Statistics wages data for the June quarter grew less than expected.

She said this showed an easing of inflationary pressures and made it more likely the Reserve Bank would keep interest rates on hold.

"That's one reason why the market got a little bit excited today, plus we had some strong earnings from companies," she said.

Ms Chan said that with world markets slowing any greater gains on the market would be limited.

"We lost a lot over the last week ... We've seen a bit of bargain hunting and that has lifted the market. We've recovered the losses we made [on Tuesday]," she said.

Shopping centre owner Westfield Group rose 6? to $8.20 despite a 32 per cent fall in half-year profit.

Woodside Petroleum gained 44? to $37.76, despite an 8.1 per cent dip in first-half net profit. Santos was up 21? at $12.14 and Oil Search was 7? stronger at $6.48.

BHP Billiton gained 39? to $39.82 and Rio Tinto was $1.03, or 1.4 per cent, higher at $74.42.

The big banks closed higher with Westpac up 26? to $20.51 a day after posting a 2 per cent fall in third-quarter cash earnings. National Australia Bank was 15? up at $23.36. ANZ gained 23? to $20.58 and Commonwealth Bank was 57? higher at $47.40.

Building materials manufacturer Boral slid 19? to $3.69 despite revealing full-year net profit of $166 million.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1787.15 per fine ounce, up $US17.82 from Tuesday's local close. Shares in gold miner Newcrest Mining were up 39? at $39.09.


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