market wrap for today

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    Sydney - Wednesday - October 26: (RWE Aust Business News) -

    The Australian shares closed sharply higher today, boosted by an afternoon rally as buyers targeted banks and miners.

    The All Ordinaries index finished 49.8 points ahead at the day's high of 4400.6 and the ASX200 index advanced 52.6 points to 4443.4.

    On the economic front the Bureau of Statistics reported the Consumer Price Index rose 0.9 per cent in the September quarter, and was up 3 per cent for the year.

    In futures the December SPI200 contract gained 56 points to 4455.

    Trading was busy with turnover of $3.5 billion, comprising 600 rises, 387 falls and 298 steadies.

    BHP Billiton was the day's busiest stock by value with turnover of $335 million, and rose 33c to $20.42.

    Rio Tinto gained 76c to $55.58, Alumina improved 12c to $5.81, Newcrest jumped 57c to $17.85 and Lihir soared 12c to $1.73.

    Among the banks National climbed 41c to $32.70, Westpac rose 28c to $20.50, ANZ advanced 26c to $23.45 and Commonwealth gained 21c to
    $38.46.

    Elsewhere in the financials sector AMP was 9c firmer at $7.29, Suncorp-Metway rose 26c to $19.35, QBE put on 20c to $17.90 and Promina improved 10c to $4.80.

    Lend Lease surged 42c to $13.79, Onesteel lost 6c to $3.47, James Hardie climbed 18c to $8.05, Boral rose 15c to $7.90, Computershare gained 15c to $6.36, Telstra eased 1c to $4.21, PBL put on 28c to $16.34,
    John Fairfax added 4c to $4.16, Tabcorp lost 18c to $16.20 and Unitab was 12c weaker at $12.63, Aristocrat Leisure rose 40c to $11.40, Pacific Brands shed 4c to $2.72, Leighton improved 25c to $15.10, Brambles advanced 15c to $8.48, Macquarie Infrastructure jumped 16c to $3.57, Toll Holdings surged 25c to $12.38, Qantas added 2c to $3.40, Woolworths fell 10c to $15.75 and Coles Myer gained 17c to $9.96, Foster's soared 18c to $5.68, Cochlear jumped 86c to $37.25 and Sonic Healthcare climbed 43c to $14.53.

    Medical devices firm Cathrx made a strong debut to the trading list, with its $1 shares opening at $1.11 and climbed to $1.40 before settling at $1.35.

    Fellow newcomer Maximus Resources was subdued, opening at 13c and edging up to close at the 15c issue price.

    Other stocks in the news included Noni B which jumped 18c to $3.28 after the AGM was told the company will pay a special 7c dividend on top of the previously announced final dividend of 7c announced in the
    2004/05 results.

    Energy stocks were among the best performers with Woodside Petroleum soaring $1.13 to $32.03, Santos climbed 31c to $11.31 and Origin Energy rose 16c to $6.75.

    In Tokyo the Nikkei rose 114 points to 13,395 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng had gained 15 points to 14,440 by the mid-session interval.

    New Zealand's NZSE50 rose 26.4 points to 3294.3.

    Gold is worth $US473.25 oz and the Australian dollar is fetching US75.71c.

    Ten-year bond yields were up 1.5 points at 5.475 per cent.
 
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