20 Sep 2008

Australian share market rallies

9:17 am on 20 September 2008

The Australian share market came back to life on Friday, buoyed by a renewed Wall Street.

The major banks led the surge on the Australian bourse.

At the 1615 AEST close, Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had gained 196.8 points, or 4.27%, to 4804.1, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 188.8 points, or 4.06%, to 4840.7

The December share price index futures contract was up 191 points to 4858, on a volume of 47,317 contracts, according to preliminary calculations.

CMC Markets head of trading James Foulsham said moves to shore up the US financial sector had helped calm investors and financial stocks had benefited, but long-term stability was still uncertain.

Among the major banks, National Australia Bank soared $A3.40, or 17.35%, to $A23.00; Commonwealth Bank lifted $A2.62, or 6.54%, to $A42.70; ANZ jumped $A2.26, or 14.63%, to $A17.71; and Westpac jumped $A1.54, or 7%, to $A23.54.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rocketed $A9.85, or 37.81%, to $A35.90 after analysts said the bank's liquidity and capital positions were strong.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was 40 cents richer at $A35.40 and Rio Tinto improved $A3.10 to $A101.50.

Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was up $A2.66 at $A54.06, and Santos rose 53c to $A18.28.

In the gold sector, Newmont shed 55c to $A4.92, Newcrest eased 65c to $A23.85 and Lihir dipped 3c to $A2.45.

The price of gold in Sydney at 1627 AEST was $US849.10 per fine ounce, down $US6.80 on Thursday's close of $US855.90.

The top-traded stock by volume was Macquarie Infrastructure Group, with 98.9 million shares worth $A200.08 million changing hands. Macquarie Infrastructure was up 31c at $A2.26.

Preliminary national turnover was 2.09 billion shares worth $A9.28 billion, with 805 stocks up, 306 down and 285 unchanged.