Shares climb back to modest gain

After starting the day lower, the local share market climbed back to a ten-week high, despite only managing modest gains.

The All Ordinaries index added 7 points to 4,290, and the ASX 200 also gained 7 points to 4,269.

Better than expected retail and trade figures helped trade, but gains were capped by nerves ahead of a key European Central Bank meeting tonight.

There are hopes the ECB will take action to bring down Spain's borrowing costs which have hit unsustainable levels recently.

Last week the central bank's President Mario Draghi said he is ready to do "whatever it takes" to support the eurozone.

However, analysts are warning markets to be prepared for more vague statements from the bank and no action.

It comes after the US Federal Reserve disappointed markets last night by stopping short of announcing any new stimulus plans despite a slowdown in the American economy.

Locally, the Bureau of Statistics released figures showing retail sales rose 1 per cent in June, meaning the volume of sales rose 1.4 in the June quarter.

Other data showing a fall in imports in June helped a significant turnaround in the trade balance, rising from a deficit of $313 million in May to a surplus of $9 million.

Retailers failed to get a boost from the positive sales figures and were some of the markets worst performers.

David Jones shares slipped 1 per cent and rival Myer lost a little more, despite the ABS figures for June showing the best gain in sales was for department stores.

Despite weak electronic sales in June, Harvey Norman ended flat and JB Hi-Fi managed a 1.3 per cent gain.

Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose more than 1 per cent on hopes the ECB will ease monetary policy.

The big banks were again mixed, with CBA down 1.2 per cent, while Westpac gained the same amount.

Currencies and commodities The Australian dollar was buying 104.7 US cents, and was higher against the other major currencies at 67.5 British pence, 85.5 euro cents and 82.25 Japanese yen around 5:15pm (AEST).  West Texas crude oil was worth $US89 a barrel, and Tapis was fetching $US109.

Spot gold was selling at $US1,599 an ounce.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9328-0.0041-0.43%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5553-0.0024-0.43%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6751-0.003-0.44%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg