Stocks back on their upward path

THE sharemarket resumed its advance yesterday as investors took heart from better than expected economic data and a rosier outlook for the troubled eurozone.

THE sharemarket resumed its advance yesterday as investors took heart from better than expected economic data and a rosier outlook for the troubled eurozone.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed with a gain of 45 points, or 1.1 per cent, at 4172.2.

CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer said the market followed a positive lead from the US.

US stocks had been boosted overnight by a Commerce Department report that factory orders were up 0.7 per cent in May from April, while US car companies said sales rose last month.

European stocks and the euro rose on the prospect that central banks would act to boost economies.

"The rally today has been ignited mainly by the better US data overnight," Mr Waterer said.

"There's also better sentiment, with things looking a bit rosier in Europe."

He said improved commodity prices gold and oil made significant gains had helped boost the materials sector, which led the market higher.

In the resource sector, BHP Billiton rose 67? to $32.47 and Rio Tinto was $1.55 higher at $58.97.

Origin Energy was 42? richer at $12.75 after it was announced that a massive $23 billion gas project in Queensland, in which Origin is a joint-venture partner, would be expanded.

Queensland's Linc Energy edged up 1? to 78?. Linc has axed 60 jobs as it aims to achieve a cash profit of $15 million in 2012-13.

Among the big banks, ANZ finished 11? higher at $22.37, National Australia Bank improved 15? to $23.83 and Commonwealth rose 27? to $53.59 but Westpac eased 2? to $21.53.

Virgin Australia was steady at 37.5?. The airline carried more domestic passengers than rival Qantas over the year to May 31 a first for the industry's traditional No. 2.

Casinos operator Echo Entertainment was 3? higher at $4.33 as the jockeying for position by stakeholders continued, with James Packer's Crown Ltd seeking regulatory approval to lift its stake in Echo to 25 per cent.

At the close of Sydney trade, the spot gold price was up $US11.18 at $US1617.15.

Turnover was 1.39 billion securities worth $3.51 billion, with 679 stocks up, 229 down and 325 unchanged. AAP

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