Stocks up but Greek talks cloud outlook

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday after better than expected US jobs figures led to strong gains on Wall Street on Friday.

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday after better than expected US jobs figures led to strong gains on Wall Street on Friday.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 44.8 points, or

1.05 per cent, to 4296.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said trading started strongly.

"But, unfortunately, we haven't been able to extend upon those gains because of the ongoing Greece issues," Mr Shamu said. "The latest reports are suggesting that the talks have actually stalled and it might extend to the equity markets tomorrow."

Greece is in talks with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank on further action needed to unlock a new euro-zone rescue deal worth ?130 billion ($A160 billion) pending since October.

The company reporting season will gain momentum on the Australian market this week, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, News Corp, Telstra Corp and Newcrest Mining due to announce their results.

In the resource sector, BHP Billiton, which will release its half-year results tomorrow, put on 61? to $38.21 while Rio Tinto gained $1.80 to $72.30.

Among the banks, National Australia Bank, which will release its trading update today, advanced 42? to $24.17.

Elsewhere in the financial services sector, Perpetual was 77? higher at $21.01 after its chief executive stood down because of differences with the board over strategy.

Industrial services company Spotless found 7? to $2.50 after it gave in to shareholders' demands and said it would allow its private equity suitor to cast its eye over the business.

Telstra was 4? better off at $3.38. Telstra is expected to report a double-digit increase in net profit flowing from an increase in market share, particularly in mobile, while keeping costs in check.


Shares in Extract Resources, the Australian developer of one of the world's biggest uranium assets, firmed 3? to $8.60 after it said it was still seeking alternative options after a Chinese state-owned company inched closer to launching a takeover offer.

A slide in gold sliced 33? off Newcrest's recent gains, sending it to a close at $33.92. The spot gold price was down $US23.23 at $US1734.77 an ounce at the Australian close.

The dollar fell back from a six-month high on weak domestic retail figures and a reported stalling in the Greek debt negotiations.

At 5pm, it was at $US1.0725, up from Friday's Australian close of $US1.0688 but below the $US1.0794 at which it peaked in US trading on Friday.

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