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Aust share market closes higher

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AAP

2013-02-01

The Australian sharemarket returned to its two-week bull run as investors, buoyed by a positive US earnings season, turned to high-yielding stocks.

At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had risen 42.3 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 4,921.1 points, and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 40.9 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 4,941.9 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 33 points higher at 4,878 points, with 27,174 contracts traded.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said local investors were feeling more optimistic after a strong earnings season in the US.

"We've had a much more positive season in the US and that I think has got local investors more optimistic about the earnings outlook," he said.

"We've also got a lot of people who are more overweight (in) cash and they've seen their neighbours earn a lot on the market and they're getting a bit nervous about not being in it."

He said local investors were also turning to high-yielding stocks, with financials, telcos and consumer discretionary shares leading the charge.

The four major banks all closed higher.

National Australia Bank soared 64 cents to $28.00, Westpac jumped 26 cents to $28.30, Commonwealth Bank surged 60 cents to $65.05 and ANZ gained 16 cents to $26.74.

Telstra gained five cents to $4.65.

The mining giants also all gained.

BHP Billiton closed 44 cents higher to $37.92, Rio Tinto jumped 84 cents to $67.20 and Fortescue added 11 cents to $4.79.

Travel and adventure retailer Kathmandu closed eight cents higher at $1.85 after it upgraded its first half 2012/13 profit guidance by 75 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 49.84 points (0.36 per cent) to 13,860.58 on Thursday.

In Europe on Thursday, London's FTSE 100 index closed down 0.73 per cent at 6,276.88 points as investors digested earnings from a host of British companies, including energy major Royal Dutch Shell and brewer Diageo.

Locally the spot price of Sydney gold was $US1,662.45 per fine ounce, down $US17.80 from Thursday's close at $US1,680.25.

National national turnover was 1.73 billion securities worth $4.46 billion.

There were 563 stocks trading up, 438 down and 342 steady.

Kylie Williams