Aust shares close higher
Market watch top headlines
MELBOURNE, Dec 28 AAP
December 28 2012, 5:26PM
The Australian share market has hit 19-month highs on the last full day of trading of 2012, buoyed by gains among resources stocks.
Australian stocks have risen 12 out of the past 14 sessions, are up by more than 15 per cent for the year and on target for its best annual gain since 2009.
At the close on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 23.3 points, or 0.5 per cent, higher at 4,671.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 23.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 4,685.3 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 18 points higher at 4,646, with 16,413 contracts traded.
The Australian market opened up about 0.5 per cent, pushing towards new highs, as traders welcomed rising iron ore prices in offshore trade.
The local market had posted its highest close in 17 months at the end of Thursday's Australian trading day with gains for the month nearly four per cent, the highest since last January.
The main reasons why included overnight investor pessimism about the looming fiscal cliff in the US turning to optimism and strong iron ore prices buoying the major miners, said IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu.
The "cliff" refers to harsh tax hikes and drastic budget cuts to arrest the country's budget deficit but could tip the economy into recession if the White House and Congress can't find an alternative by their New Year's Eve deadline.
"The concerns about the fiscal cliff have now turned into optimism because supposedly President Obama has cut short his holiday and flown back to Washington to meet leaders later today to try and knock something up," Mr Shamu told AAP.
The iron ore price climbed three per cent overnight to $US139.40 ($A134.95) having sunk below $US90 ($A87.13) in September.
Rio Tinto gained $1.08, or 1.65 per cent, to $66.53, BHP Billiton was 41 cents, or 1.1 per cent, firmer at $37.40 and Fortescue Metals had put on 11 cents, or 2.43 per cent, to $4.64.
Retailers were in green figures in the wake of the Boxing Day sales.
JB Hi-Fi was nine cents, or 0.88 per cent, higher at $10.35, Myer was two cents firmer at $2.15, David Jones advanced two cents to $2.43 and Harvey Norman climbed four cents, or 2.12 per cent, to $1.925.
Local bank shares also gained ground following falls for three of the four majors on Thursday.
The Commonwealth Bank gained 13 cents to $62.25, Westpac lifted 17 cents to $26.27, ANZ closed nine cents higher at $25.00 and NAB rose by seven cents for the second day in a row, closing at $25.02.
National turnover was light with 888.1 million securities worth $1.53 billion changing hands, with 491 stocks finishing up, 323 down and 338 unchanged.
Trading on New Year's Eve on Monday will close at 1410 AEDT.
The spot price of gold in Sydney finished at $US1,662.15 per fine ounce, up $US6.55 from Thursday's local close of $US1,655.60 per ounce.
By Greg Roberts