Aust share market closes higher

The Australian share market has closed higher as global markets rallied on the back of encouraging US factory production figures and relief that sanctions imposed on Russia after the Crimea vote were not too severe.

OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said global markets had found some comfort over an easing of geopolitical tension in Crimea.

"That's what propelled US and European stock markets higher last night. We've ridden up on the coat-tails of that," he said.

In the US, investors were buoyed by a report that showed factory output rebounded last month, indicating that the world's largest economy is improving.

Also, the United States and the European Union announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis, but avoided measures that would hurt Russia's vital economic interests.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton rose 60 cents to $36.07, Rio Tinto added 57 cents to $61.85, and Fortescue Metals dipped three cents to $4.88.

Among the major banks, Westpac lifted five cents at $33.59, Commonwealth Bank improved 34 cents to $75.19, National Australia Bank jumped 34 cents to $34.54, and ANZ ascended 20 cents to $32.26.

Agricultural chemicals and seeds supplier Nufarm gained 10 cents to $4.00 as it said it will axe 105 jobs as part of a cost-cutting restructure of its Australian operations.

Retailer David Jones was up four cents at $3.33 as it said it will undertake a thorough assessment of a merger proposal put by rival Myer. Myer scraped off one cent at $2.65.


* On Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 27 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 5,344.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 25 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 5,360.2 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was up 26 points at 5,348 points, with 187,691 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 1.47 billion securities worth $3.95 billion.

* The price of gold in Sydney was $US1,360.71 per fine ounce, down $US21.97 on Monday's closing price of $US1,382.68.

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