Australia Markets closed

Aust stocks edge closer to 5,000 mark

Gains by the major banks have pushed the Australian share market toward the 5,000 point level.

At 1042 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 16.3 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 4,975.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 16.7 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 4,997 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 15 points at 4,934 points, with 5,761 contracts traded.

The finance sector - a large slice of the market - was one of the better performers at the open, rising 0.59 per cent, according to IRESS data.

The big four banks were all higher.

ANZ had risen eight cents to $27.85, CBA was up 47 cents at $65.59, NAB was 15 cents firmer at $29.24 and Westpac had climbed 14 cents to $28.10.

A positive profit report from retailer JB Hi-Fi on Monday had prompted some investors to return to the share market, Baillieu Holst director Richard Morrow said.

"There's still quite an imbalance out there in investor land, with people holding too much cash and not enough shares," Mr Morrow said.

"Some of the results out yesterday, especially JB Hi-Fi and the rally in the consumer sector, I think caused a few investors to panic to cover short positions and to rebuild weightings to the sharemarket."

The local market's performance came despite a flat lead from Wall Street.

The Dow slipped 0.16 per cent overnight, while the S&P500 ended 0.06 per cent weaker and the NASDAQ eased 0.06 per cent.

Making news on Tuesday, industrial equipment maker Bradken's first half profit rose by nine per cent to $46.7 million.

Bradken shares were up 53 cents, or 8.7 per cent, at $6.63 to be the best performing stock among the market's largest 200.

Shares in Whitehaven Coal also rose after its Maules Creek mine in NSW received conditional environmental approval.

Whitehaven was up 19 cents, or 6.4 per cent, at $3.15.

National turnover was 208.8 million securities worth $315.5 million, with 326 stocks up, 233 down and 251 unchanged.