Aust stocks close higher
Market watch top headlines
Australian stocks have closed at fresh 19-month highs after strong gains among the big miners and retail banks.
At 1615 AEDT on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 34.8 points, or 0.74 per cent, at 4,740.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 38.5 points, or 0.82 per cent, at 4,761.4 points.
It was the S&P/ASX200's highest close since it finished the local trading day at 4,756.4 points on May 19, 2011.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 35 points higher at 4,719, with 26,588 contracts traded.
The local market opened up 0.4 per cent, following a strong lead from Wall Street, and extended gains through the day with investors buoyed by the deal over the US fiscal cliff and firmer commodities prices during the overnight session.
Positive data from China also lifted sentiment on equities markets.
Resources-related sectors were among the best performers on a day of broad-based gains on the Australian bourse.
The gold sector climbed 3.17 per cent, metals and minerals companies rose 1.64 per cent and the materials sector advanced 1.5 per cent, according to IRESS data.
BHP Billiton was up 31 cents to $38.15, while Rio Tinto was $1.63 firmer at $69.25.
Financial stocks - a large component of the Australian market - were 0.41 per cent higher, with all four big retail banks all posting gains.
ANZ climbed nine cents to $25.18, CBA advanced 52 cents to $63.24 - an all-time closing high - NAB rose 15 cents to $25.25 and Westpac was nine cents firmer at $26.19.
"Regional equities are seeing a continuation of the buoyant risk environment in Asia today as investors react to the passing of the fiscal cliff deal," IG markets strategist Stan Shamu said in a research note.
"Although some analysts feel this is merely a relief rally as US leaders kick the can down the road so to speak, it seems to have done the job for now."
Making news on Thursday, IAG said it had raised its catastrophe reinsurance programme to $5 billion for 2013, from $4.7 billion in 2012.
IAG was up three cent at $4.72.
Brambles rose eight cents to $7.67 after the pallet company said it had completed the 135 million euro ($A170.82 million) acquisition of intermediate bulk container company Pallecon.
The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,687.30 per fine ounce, up $US7.12 from Wednesday's local close of $US1,680.18 per ounce.
Preliminary national turnover was 1.4 billion securities worth $2.8 billion, with 621 stocks finishing up, 305 down and 333 unchanged.