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Resurgent banks help shares close higher

Christian Edwards  |  08 Jan 2018Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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SYDNEY - [AAP] Australian shares have closed higher on broad-based gains, led by banking stocks and a materials sector boosted by rising commodity prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Friday up 0.74 per cent at 6,122.3 points, with only the utilities and real estate sectors ending the session in the red.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said local markets hit a tipping point on Friday where buyers could no longer avoid unyielding US market highs and rising commodity and oil prices.

"Those who have been looking for a pullback or opportunity to buy in at lower prices to get on board the global growth train have been left with little choice but to join the fray," Mr Spooner said.

"Today was the day, so to speak."

Australia's four major banks broke out of their recent malaise, gaining between 0.8 and 1.5 per cent, with the Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) leading the gains - up $1.19 to $81.16.

Telstra (ASX: TLS) gained 5.0 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $3.73, as consumer stocks such as Wesfarmers and Woolworths also kicked ahead, both closing 0.7 per cent higher.

Rising metals and iron ore prices helped add 0.8 per cent to BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and 0.5 per cent to Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO), but it was Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) and BHP spinoff South 32 (ASX: S32) that performed best - up 3.5 and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Following Thursday's official lifting of an export ban on Australian cannabis-based medicinal products, shares in local producers and distributors pulled back from the morning's stellar highs but The Hydropo Company and Bod Australia still both ended 7.5 per cent ahead.

Shares in Billabong rose 2.6 per cent to 98 cents after the surfwear icon backed a buyout proposal from the owner of Quiksilver and reaffirmed its 2018 full-year guidance.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was at 78.48 US cents at 1700 AEDT, compared to 78.39 US cents on Thursday.

It had been as high as 78.71 US cents against a weakened greenback until the release of disappointing trade figures for November sent the local currency heading downwards.

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 45.2 points, or 0.74 per cent, at 6,122.3 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 44.3 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 6,229.7
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 49 points, or 0.81 per cent, at 6,074 points
* National turnover was 4.5 billion securities traded worth $4.4 billion.

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