Rebound in miners lifts market

Australian stocks have closed firmer, recovering from one-month lows, with miners leading gains after China approved infrastructure plans worth $150 billion and the European Central Bank announced a long-awaited bond-buying program.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 12.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4325.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 17.2 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4348.8 points.

The materials sector led the gains, rallying 2.3 per cent. But the market's advance was capped by weakness in the banking sector, which has risen in recent days as investors switched from mining stocks amid falls in metal prices.

The local market rose strongly in early trade after the European Central Bank (ECB) announced plans to support struggling euro zone countries through the bond market. However, the domestic market drifted back through the day as investors looked ahead to the release of key economic data from the US and China in the coming days.

The US non-farm payrolls report - a key employment indicator, as well as Chinese inflation, industrial production and retail sales figures were scheduled for publication over the weekend.

CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer said Friday’s rise on the Australian market was a ‘‘stripped down’’ version of the rally on overseas market overnight, when the Dow Jones soared 1.9 per cent and US S&P500 advanced two per cent.


‘‘Nonetheless, the blue chip mining stocks made the best of the conditions,’’ Mr Waterer said in a research note. ‘‘The likes of BHP and Rio surged on hopes that the ECB bond buying plan will provide a ’shot in the arm’ to commodities demand over coming quarters by instilling a sense of confidence to markets.’’

BHP Billiton rose 64 cents to $31.98 and Rio finished $2.22 higher at $52.38. Fortescue soared 11.5 per cent to $3.31 - but was still down more than 6 per cent for the week after several days of losses.

Making news, the Jamie Packer controlled pay-tv investment vehicle Consolidated Media Holdings (ConsMedia) has backed a revised takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch’s Australian arm News Ltd.

ConsMedia ended down two cents at $3.42, while News was up 34 cents at $23.86 and its non-voting scrip was 44 cents higher at $23.71.

BusinessDay, with AAP