Victory for Obama gives shot in arm

THE sharemarket closed higher after the re-election of US President Barack Obama gave it a boost during the last hour of trade.

THE sharemarket closed higher after the re-election of US President Barack Obama gave it a boost during the last hour of trade.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 31.7 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4516.5.

"The local market started off without much direction," said BBY institutional trader Anson Rosewall. "On the whole, I think people were really struggling to gauge what was going on [in the US]."

But the re-election of Mr Obama gave local investors clarity, with the market adding more than 20 points after the result was confirmed.

Just about all sectors ended higher, with gold jumping 2.7 per cent, telecoms adding 1.7 per cent, materials up 1 per cent and energy and financials both rising 0.7 per cent.

Industrials bucked the trend, slipping 0.1 per cent.

The dollar jumped to fresh five-week highs, trading around US104.55?.

The re-election of Mr Obama will help the local dollar, with the US President more in favour of quantitative easing than his Republican rival Mitt Romney. The dollar could soon push above US105?.

Mr Rosewall said that the result was also good for commodity and gold stocks.

The big miners were up, with Rio Tinto adding 0.8 per cent to $60, while rival BHP rose 0.5 per cent to $34.98. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals gained 1.3 per cent to $4.05 and gold miner Newcrest jumped 2.3 per cent to $26.70.

News Corporation reported overnight in the US that its net profit had tripled for the first quarter of the 2013 financial year, surging to $2.16 billion, up from $715.5 million in the corresponding period last year.

"News Corp was pretty much in line with expectations, but they had some one-offs that were better than expected," Mr Rosewall said.

News Corp shares on the local market rose 74? to $24.10.

Retailer Harvey Norman reported a 10 per cent drop in sales and a 20 per cent fall in profits in the first quarter. The company's shares closed down 2.2 per cent at $1.81.

Elsewhere among retail stocks, JB Hi-Fi added 0.6 per cent to $10.05, Myer rose 0.8 per cent to $1.91 and David Jones finished flat at $2.46.

Among the banks, CBA jumped 0.6 per cent to $57.80 after it reported its first-quarter cash earnings, which came through in line with expectations at $1.85 billion.

ANZ added 1 per cent to $25.51, Westpac gained 1.3 per cent to $25.86 and NAB fell 0.2 per cent to $24.99.

Downer EDI shares soared 5.8 per cent to $3.62 after the engineering company said it was on track to achieve full-year profit expectations.

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