Aust shares close higher
Market watch top headlines
The Australian share market closed higher on Thursday, with positive manufacturing data out of the US overnight and China during the day promoting positive investor sentiment.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 43.6 points, or 0.99 per cent, at 4,413.1, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 41.7 points, or 0.95 per cent, at 4,432.4.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 42 points higher at 4,423, with 25,939 contracts traded.
The market eased slightly from intraday levels that were about 1.3 per cent higher, which showed there were still enough negative economic issues to stop traders pushing prices further, said CMC Markets sales trader Ben Taylor.
"We did have quite a lot of optimism to start the day but there are still some pretty big issues we need to get through," he told AAP.
"The US fiscal cliff obviously is a consideration and the euro zone and IMF meetings going on need to be taken into account.
"I think the market is wary."
Mr Taylor pointed out that bond market yields were heading up, suggesting financial market participants were pessimistic about the economy.
However, the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI reading rose for the first time in 13 months on Thursday.
That suggested the a piece in China's economic puzzle was back on track, giving investors confidence to add risk to portfolios, Mr Taylor said.
BHP Billiton climbed 33 cents to close at $33.69 and Rio Tinto gained 13 cents to $57.08.
However, Fortescue Metals gave up 10 cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $3.80.
Australia's largest pure energy company, Woodside Petroleum, was 20 cents, or 0.6 per cent, higher at $33.54, giving up some earlier gains.
Coal company Whitehaven lost three cents, or 1.07 per cent, to $2.78 with prices in the coal industry low and the miner's biggest shareholder Nathan Tinkler dealing with two of his companies being placed in liquidation this week.
Fellow oil and gas producer Santos, at an investor presentation day, forecast higher production for this year and next. Its stocks were 11 cents, or 1.01 per cent, better at $11.05.
Among the major banks, National Australia Bank was the only loser, shedding three cents to $23.64.
ANZ was up 22 cents to $23.74, Commonwealth Bank rose 79 cents to $58.67 and Westpac climbed 23 cents to $24.83.
In other news, a move to restrict Woolworths' operation of poker machines was voted down by the retailers' shareholders.
Woolworths shares were up 14 cents at $26.82.
The Sydney gold price closed at $US1,731.45 per fine ounce, up $US7.30 from Tuesday's close of $US$1,724.15
National turnover was 1.5 billion securities worth $3.42 billion with 555 stocks up and 377 down, with 361 unchanged.