Australia Markets closed

Aust stocks close slightly higher

The Australian stock market has closed marginally higher as upbeat Chinese data helped lift resource stocks and sustain the momentum of the market.

At close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 6.1 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 4,557.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 6.5 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 4,562.4 points.

The S&P/ASX200 was nearing its calendar 2012 closing high of 4,571.1 points reached on October 19.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was four points higher at 4,564 with 23,245 contracts traded.

CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer said recent positive Chinese data and improving US unemployment figures were sustaining the momentum of the Australian market, while "fiscal cliff" negotiations stall.

The "fiscal cliff" refers to a series of tax hikes and spending cuts that will come into effect on January 1 if the Republicans and Democrats cannot reach a compromise.

"Chinese economic indicators have definitely been 'coming to the party' of late and this is helping offset the uncertainty pertaining to the US budget talks," Mr Waterer said.

He acknowledged that Monday's Chinese trade balance data was lower than expected but said on balance the signs have been positive from the world's second biggest economy.

"Today's result should do little to deflate investor confidence that things are indeed picking up," he said.

Resource stocks were responsive to the Chinese economic indicators, with Rio Tinto performing particularly well on Monday, he said.

Rio Tinto surged $1.13 to $61.30, BHP Billiton jumped 21 cents to $34.95 and Fortescue gained 26 cents to $4.05.

Southern Cross Media plunged 8.5 cents, or 7.69 per cent, to $1.02 after British nurse Jacintha Saldanha apparently took her own life days after taking a prank call from two DJs from the company's Austereo Network.

Ten shares had resumed trading after the free-to-air broadcaster completed the institutional component of its $230 million capital raising at 20 cents per share.

Taking into account the dilutive effect of the capital raising, Ten was down 1.4 cents, or 5.37 per cent, at 25.5 cents.

Sydney gold closed at $US1,708.65, up $US5.45 from Friday's close of $US1,703.20.

National turnover was 1.347 billion securities worth $3.218 billion, with 444 stocks trading up, 522 down and 347 unchanged.