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Australian miners push market higher

The Australian share market closed moderately higher, driven by renewed strength in global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

At the 1615 AEST close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 27.5 points, or 0.55 per cent, at 5,053.6, while the broader All Ordinaries had lifted 21.1 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 5,090.4.

The September share price index futures contract improved nine points to 5,030 on a volume of 19,051 contracts, according to preliminary figures.

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"BHP and Rio have both been quite strong ... it's mostly that move in BHP and Rio that's pushed the market into positive territory today," .

China may increase its stake in Rio Tinto to block a takeover proposal by BHP Billiton was helping to boost the Rio share price.

Bargain-hunters were also picking up shares in BHP Billiton.

"BHP has also come off quite a lot in the last few days, so a few people are trying to pick the bottom on it,"

Among resources stocks, global miner BHP Billiton rose 74 cents to $37.21, while Rio Tinto gained $2.34 to $114.00.

Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum added 44 cents to $51.94 and Santos retreated 78 cents to $16.22.

The banking sector was mixed. St George jumped $1.07 cents to $31.30 as it reaffirmed its 2008 full year earnings guidance after posting a 12.5 per cent rise in cash profit for the first 10 months of its fiscal year.

Commonwealth Bank, which reports its results Wednesday, added three cents to $44.51, National Australia Bank lifted 75 cents to $26.47, Westpac stepped forward 15 cents to $24.50 and ANZ sagged 31 cents to $17.47.

 

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On Wall Street Monday night, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.03 to 11,782.35 as falling oil prices eased inflation fears and the market shrugged off an escalating deadly conflict between Russia and Georgia.

In the media sector, trans-Tasman media company APN News and Media retreated 15 cents to $3.30 as it said it was comfortable with market forecasts for its annual earnings, after booking a dip in interim profit.

Consolidated Media eased six cents to $3.28 and Fairfax added nine cents to $2.92.

News Corp lost seven cents to $16.18 and its non-voting stock reversed 11 cents to $15.60.

Among the telcos, Telstra weakened three cents to $4.50.

Telstra was the top-traded stock by volume, with 51.83 million shares worth $232.25 million changing hands.

Optus-owner Singapore Telecommunications slipped five cents to $2.81 as first quarter profit fell 5.3 per cent.

In the retail sector, Wesfarmers, which owns Coles, scraped off one cent at $35.49. Woolworths ascended 30 cents to $27.30.

Among gold stocks, Newmont reversed 20 cents to $4.68, Newcrest surrendered 76 cents to $23.49 and Lihir let go 15 cents at $2.12.

The price of gold in Sydney at 1631 AEST was $US808.20 per fine ounce, down $US52.10 on Monday's close of $860.30.

Among other stocks, engineering company WorleyParsons was $1.23 stronger at $34.68 as it said it expected increased earnings this year after delivering a 53 per cent rise in profit for 2007/08.

Bradken, a supplier of equipment and services to the rail and mining industries, was 30 cents richer at $10.00 as it forecast continued strength in the resources sector after delivering a rise in net profit for 2007/08.

Hearing implant company Cochlear firmed 32 cents at $47.14 as it lifted its annual profit by 15 per cent and said it expected to again post double-digit earnings in the current financial year.

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