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Aust shares close higher on relief rally

Christian Edwards
AAP

The Australian share market has closed in positive territory, led by the energy sector as investors rallied around hopes that tension in Syria and the China-US trade tiff have both peaked.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.2 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5,841.3 points at 1700 AEST on Monday, with the broader All Ordinaries up 8.3 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 5,933.0 points, with the energy producers leading gains.

Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos said local markets embarked on a relief rally as Russian retaliation to US-led strikes on Syria failed to eventuate.

Wall Street ended lower on Friday on what turned out to be the correct expectation of a Western military response in Syria.

"We're in positive territory, which is a surprise, but it looks like the market is more comfortable with what the US response in Syria was and how it was handled," Mr Lakos said.

Assisted by the prospect of the highest quarterly growth in US earning seasons since early 2011, local shares lifted from the open.

"I would gauge that the US companies will manage those high expectations well, as they have done historically," Mr Lakos said.

Following oil's largest weekly gain since July, global prices fell amid cautious trade on Monday following allied air strikes in Syria, and as US energy companies added seven oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 815, the highest since in three years.

Origin Energy climbed 2.2 per cent to $9.23, Woodside Petroleum was up 0.7 per cent at $30.52, Santos added 0.3 per cent to $5.93, and Oil Search climbed 0.9 per cent to $7.69.

Iron ore prices were higher overnight, but have fallen 2.3 per cent on the Dalian futures exchange, leaving local players mixed.

BHP Billiton lifted by 0.8 per cent to $29.98, Rio Tinto lost 0.3 per cent to $77.96, and Fortescue Metals fell 0.9 per cent to $4.50.

Aluminium on the London Metal Exchange was steady after hitting a six-high year on Friday and posting its biggest weekly gain since the current contract was launched.

South32 gained 3.2 per cent to $3.59 and Alumina climbed 2.7 per cent to $2.66.

A fortnight ahead of their reporting season the big four lenders were mixed, National Australia Bank up 0.4 per cent at $28.63, Westpac ahead by 0.2 per cent to $28.95, ANZ up 0.04 per cent at $26.72, and Commonwealth Bank down 0.7 per cent to $72.62.

Transurban lifted 0.6 per cent to $11.25 after the toll operator's average traffic volumes in Sydney and Melbourne increased by more than three per cent during the March quarter.

The A2 Milk Company strengthened 0.9 per cent, to $11.70 after the milk producer announced a South Korean expansion.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar's move back toward 80 US cents was checked in afternoon trade.

At 1700 AEST, the Aussie was worth 77.55 US cents, from 77.90 US cents on Friday.

ON THE ASX AT 1700 AEST:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 12.2 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 5,841.3 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 8.3 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 5,933.0 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 4.0 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,820 points.

* National turnover was 3.174 billion securities traded worth $4.5.07 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.55 US cents, from 77.90 on Friday

* 83.15 Japanese yen, from 83.82 yen

* 62.91 euro cents, from 63.22 euro cents

* 54.45 British pence, from 54.67 pence

* 105.61 NZ cents, from 105.45 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,343.33 per fine ounce, from $US1,337.05 per fine ounce on Friday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0925pct, from 2.0745pct, on Friday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7130pct, 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 97.760 (2.240pct), from 97.780 (2.220pct).

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