Miners lift market to 15-month high
THE sharemarket closed at a 15-month high yesterday, buoyed by miners following a rise in commodity prices and a boost in sentiment after Spain avoided a credit downgrade.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 jumped 36.7 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4528.2.
Among the sectors, mining stocks led the way, gaining 1.6 per cent, financials added 0.5 per cent, industrials were 1.5 per cent higher and energy rose 0.9 per cent. Consumer staples bucked the trend, falling 0.2 per cent.
The market got an early boost after credit rating agency Moody's held Spain's debt rating at Baa3, just above junk status.
''Europe really got a bolt, on both the affirmation of Spain's ratings and the fact that the Germans may be a little more lenient with some of their enforcement of the rules and regulations, probably relaxing a little bit ahead of an election,'' said Suncorp Bank analyst Darryl Conroy.
The miners enjoyed a rebound, with BHP saying it would press ahead with plans to increase iron ore output despite the price weakening. BHP gained 1.1 per cent to $33.45, while Rio Tinto added 1.7 per cent to $56.05. Fortescue jumped 5.7 per cent to $4.07.
Gold was trading around $US1751 an ounce. Australia's biggest goldminer, Newcrest, rose 1.1 per cent to $27.62.
The dollar pushed over the US103¢ mark, buying US103.1¢ in late trade, giving the Reserve Bank more incentive to cut interest rates again next month.
''[We're] still very aggressively priced in for rate cuts; it has us sneaking under 2.5 per cent by June next year, which is a pretty hectic speed for cuts,'' Mr Conroy said.
''[But] I don't see these eventuating, I expect the journey to be a bit slower. There are still a couple of positives out there.''
The banks performed reasonably. ANZ added 0.7 per cent to $25.96, Westpac also rose 0.7 per cent, to $25.89, NAB jumped 0.6 per cent to $26.79, while CBA fell 0.2 per cent to $56.99.
Of the worst 10 performers on the ASX 200, three were media stocks after several brokers downgraded the sector.
Ten Network lost 7.5 per cent to 31¢, Fairfax Media fell 5.1 per cent to a new low of 37.5¢ and APN News & Media slipped 4 per cent to 26.5¢.
''It's a tough road with the shifting of the sands for [the media sector] and it's probably going to experience it for some time to come,'' Mr Conroy said. ''Channel Nine has highlighted a few risks for that sector more broadly.''
It wasn't all bad news for the sector, with News Ltd shares adding 1.1 per cent to $24.54 after Rupert Murdoch beat a protest vote over his dual role as chairman and chief executive at News' AGM in the US.