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Welcome rally boosts investors' spirits

THE stockmarket rose the most in almost three years yesterday as investor sentiment improved on renewed optimism of a solution in the European debt crisis.

THE stockmarket rose the most in almost three years yesterday as investor sentiment improved on renewed optimism of a solution in the European debt crisis.

The bourse opened stronger after Wall Street surged for its second straight day, eased slightly after midday, then soared in the last hour of trading. By the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 143.4 points, or 3.65 per cent, at to 4069.9, while the broader All Ordinaries rose up 139.6 points, or 3.5 per cent, at 4132.1.

The Intersuisse director of equities, Andrew Sekely, said the market had taken a lead from positive sentiment about the euro zone debt crisis on Wall Street overnight.

"It's a follow-through [from] two good days in the US," he said. "Investors are hoping that ... the measures that hopefully will be taken [in Europe] will continue to drive the market higher."

There were gains across the board, with all sectors closing higher.

The materials sector, which was among those sectors hardest hit by declines in recent weeks, ended the day up 4.3 per cent.

But Mr Sekely said stocks were still a long way from recovering all of the recent heavy losses on the back of weak commodity prices, particularly over the past fortnight.

Among the mining stocks, BHP Billiton advanced 3.3 per cent, or $1.17, to $36.30, while fellow miner Rio Tinto gained 4.9 per cent, or $2.98, to $63.28. Atlas Iron climbed 20?, or 7.1 per cent, to $3, while Fortescue Metals gained 30?, or 7.1 per cent, to $4.55.

There was also solid support for financials, with all the major retail banks gaining more than 4 per cent. National Australia Bank was the strongest stock on the ASX 20, soaring 5 per cent, or $1.09, to $22.87.

Energy stocks also finished sharply firmer as crude oil prices rallied after a significant, unexpected drop in US oil stockpiles.

Woodside Petroleum ended 4.7 per cent, or $1.54 higher, at $34.34, while Santos closed 24?, or 2.1 per cent, stronger at $11.60.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy was the best performing stock on the S&P/ASX100 index, soaring 16.2 per cent, or 19?, to $1.36.

Mr Sekely said volumes were better than they had been in recent days.


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