Share market gains in very light trade

The local share market enjoyed some reasonable gains today, shrugging off a poor lead from international markets at the end of last week.

The deadlock over budget negotiations in the United States sent Wall Street down about 1 per cent last Friday.

US politicians have just one week left to agree on measures that will prevent billions of dollars in tax increases and spending cuts, which are due to start from January 1.

Investors around the world are hoping a deal can be reached to avoid the so-call fiscal cliff.

However, the local market has managed to look beyond those concerns and, in a shortened session that finished at 2:10pm (AEDT) before the two-day Christmas break, the All Ordinaries Index closed up 10 points at 4,645, while the ASX 200 added 0.25 per cent to 4,635.

However, trade was only around a quarter of the levels generally seen on a typical full trading day.

Retailers performed well, with investors betting on a last-minute Christmas shopping splurge.

Shares in department store Myer gained 1 per cent to $2.07, while major rival David Jones closed 1 cent higher at $2.34.

Furniture and electrical retailer Harvey Norman closed up 0.8 per cent and JB Hi-Fi added 8 cents to $10.23.

Mining stocks have benefited from stronger base metal prices - Rio Tinto closed up 10 cents at $64.84 and BHP Billiton gained almost 0.5 per cent to $36.86.

It has been a mixed bag for the major banks: Commonwealth Bank led the way with a 0.5 per cent gain; ANZ closed up 2 cents to $24.97; Westpac closed unchanged at $26.17; but NAB edged down 6 cents to $24.88.

Telstra gained 3 cents to $4.37.

On currency markets, the Australian dollar has been fighting back from earlier losses - around 2:30pm (AEDT) it was buying 104.04 US cents, 87.76 Japanese yen, 78.9 euro cents, 64.34 British pence and $NZ1.2645.

West Texas crude oil was worth $US88.15 a barrel, and Tapis eased slightly to $US114.88 a barrel.

Spot gold was fetching $US1,656.36 an ounce.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9327-0.0005-0.05%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5555-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6753-0.0003-0.05%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg