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Aust shares higher as Syria fears ease

 

The Australian share market is trading higher after Russia held back from retaliating immediately to US-led strikes on Syria.

Investors also expect that the current company earnings season in the US will show the highest quarterly growth since early 2011.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 27 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 5,856.1 points at 1200 AEST on Monday, and the broader All Ordinaries was up 22.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,947.6 points.

On Wall Street on Friday, stocks fell after the State Department said that it had proof that Syria carried out a recent chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma.

Financial stocks also weighed on the market after the quarterly profit of JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest US bank by assets, fell slightly short of expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent.

On the local bourse, energy stocks lifted after oil prices made the largest weekly gain since July, supported by concerns about the potential for Western military action in Syria and reports of dwindling global oil inventories.

Woodside Petroleum was up 1.1 per cent at $30.66, Santos added 0.2 per cent to $5.925, and Oil Search climbed 1.4 per cent to $7.73.

Among the major miners, a rise in iron ore prices helped lift BHP Billiton by 1.1 per cent to $30.06, Rio Tinto improved 0.2 per cent to $78.40, and Fortescue Metals rose 0.9 per cent to $4.58.

The big four banks were stronger, led by National Australia Bank which was up by 1.2 per cent at $28.865..

Among other stocks, toll roads operator Transurban picked up four cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $11.22 after average daily traffic on its roads and tunnels in Sydney and Melbourne increased by more than three per cent in the March quarter.

The A2 Milk Company strengthened 5.5 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $11.655 after it said it is expanding into the market in South Korea.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is slightly lower against the US dollar following the fall on Wall Street.

At 1200 AEST, the Aussie was worth 77.72 US cents, from 77.90 US cents on Friday.

ON THE ASX AT 1200 AEST:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 27 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 5,856.1 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 22.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 5,947.6 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 20 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5,836 points

* National turnover was 973.8 million securities traded worth $1.1 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.72 US cents, from 77.90 on Friday

* 83.45 Japanese yen, from 83.82 yen

* 63.00 euro cents, from 63.22 euro cents

* 54.52 British pence, from 54.67 pence

* 105.70 NZ cents, from 105.45 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEST was $US1,347.30 per fine ounce, from $US1,337.05 per fine ounce on Friday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0866pct, from 2.0745pct, on Friday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7136pct, from 2.7021pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.245 (implying a yield of 2.755pct), from 97.255 (2.745pct) on Friday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.770 (2.230pct), from 97.780 (2.220pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)