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Aust stocks close higher

Australian stocks closed stronger, pushing above one per cent during the day but easing to around half a per cent higher by the finish.

Investors initially took their cues from a positive finish on Wall Street where US stocks posted fresh record highs.

RBS Morgans private client adviser Craig Walker said financial stocks, insurers and property stocks all closed in positive territory.

"The theme which has been driving the market higher - investors looking for dividend-paying stocks - has continued," Mr Walker said.

"Strong US consumer confidence figures have been the main driver."

Banking stocks were mixed, with ANZ down three cents at $30.23, Commonwealth Bank 28 cents higher at $73.49, National Australia Bank 28 cents stronger at $33.37 and Westpac up 44 cents at $31.79.

Resources stocks were mixed as the gold price continued to wane, with BHP Billion 38 cents higher at $34.79 and Rio Tinto climbed 13 cents to $55.42.

Gold miner Newcrest was down 12 cents at $14.56.

Construction giant Leighton reaffirmed earnings guidance for 2013, with underlying net profit forecast at between $520 million and $600 million.

Leighton was up 66 cents, or 3.66 per cent, at $18.67.

Australia's second largest telco Optus will expand its latest 4G mobile network to 70 per cent of the country's metropolitan population by the middle of 2014.

Its parent company, Singapore Telecommunications, was up two cents at $3.30 in local trading.

The company is listed in both Australia and Singapore.

Meanwhile, shares in Santos closed 21 cents higher at $13.14 after the company said oil production had commenced ahead of schedule at its $490 million Fletcher Finucane project in Western Australia.

KEY FACTS

* At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 28.2 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 5,209 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was 25.6 points, or 0.5 per cent, firmer at 5,185.4.

* On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was 25 points higher at 5,218 with 23,352 contracts traded.

* The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1,346.07 per fine ounce, down $US29.59 from $US1,375.65 on Friday.

* National turnover was 1.48 billion securities worth $3.6 billion.

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