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US lead, investor interest lifts market

The Australian share market has closed higher after a strong lead from US stocks and with more investors looking to the share market as a potentially better alternative to property.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Monday's session 0.42 per cent higher at 6,075.4 points.

On Wall Street in the US on Friday, stocks lifted as pharmaceutical and technology companies reported strong profit results.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the Australian bourse had a pleasing day on Monday, building up through the session instead of jumping out of the blocks and then crumbling.

"It does suggest a higher level of investor participation and less short-term trading interests whipping the market around," he said.

"It does appear that some concern about the property market is feeding into, at the margin, more people having a look at the share market."

Mr McCarthy said telecommunications stocks, healthcare and energy stocks were well supported.

Shares in oil and gas producer AWE soared 14 cents, or 16.5 per cent, to 99 cents after Japan's Mitsui & Co proposed became the third suitor to propose a takeover of the Australian oil and gas company.

Among other energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum gained 0.3 per cent to $34.13, Santos lifted 1.0 per cent to $5.25, but Oil Search dipped 0.9 per cent to $7.81.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton eased 0.4 per cent to $30.73, Rio Tinto added 0.3 per cent to $79.08 and Fortescue Metals slipped 0.2 per cent to $5.09.

Gold stocks came under pressure despite weakness in the US dollar.

Newcrest fell 1.5 per cent to $23.01, and Evolution Mining backtracked 1.4 per cent to $2.76.

Among the big banks, Commonwealth Bank was rose 54 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $79.19 as it promoted retail banking chief Matt Comyn to replace Ian Narev as chief executive and "rebuild trust" in Australia's largest lender.

National Australia Bank found 0.7 per cent at $29.26, Westpac climbed 0.6 per cent to $31.11, but ANZ gave away 0.1 per cent to $28.63.

Among other companies, Crown Resorts was off one cent, or 0.1 per cent, at $13.06 as the casinos operator completed the sale of its interest in land in Las Vegas on which the company had once intended to build a casino.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar hit a two-and-a-half-year high of 81.36 US cents on Friday night, reflecting weakness in the US dollar, but has since eased to 80.92 US cents at 1630 AEDT, from 81.05 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 25.4 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 6,075.4 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index finished up 22.9 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 6,187.6 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 25 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 6,010 points

* National turnover was 3.1 billion securities traded worth $4.5 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

* 80.89 US cents, from 81.05 US cents on Thursday

* 88.01 Japanese yen, from 88.29 yen

* 65.16 euro cents, from 65.11 euro cents

* 57.24 British pence, from 56.69 pence

* 110.33 NZ cents, from 109.85 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,348.50 per fine ounce, from $US1,364.67 per fine ounce on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0774pct, from 2.068pct, on Friday.

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8089pct, from 2.802pct.

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.145 (implying a yield of 2.855pct), from 97.17 (2.83pct) on Friday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.730 (2.270pct), from 97.74 (2.26pct).

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

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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