market wrap for today

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    Resources give stocks late boost
    Dec 07 17:05

    The sharemarket closed higher on Wednesday boosted by the resources sector and a strong lead from Wall Street, as the Reserve Bank of Australia kept interest rates steady.

    At the close, the S&P/ASX200 was up 7.9 points at 4623.9, while the All Ordinaries firmed 7.6 points to 4576.3.

    ABN Amro private client adviser Bill Bishop said it was a quietly confident day for the bourse.

    "It [the performance] is a combination of ... the Reserve Bank not moving the interest rate and the solid news from America, overlaid by the ongoing resources strength in Australia," he said.

    "The market is still showing plenty of confidence."



    Earlier on Wednesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates steady at 5.50 per cent for the ninth month in a row, in line with market expectations.

    Leading the late charge were resources stocks with Rio Tinto finding 85¢ to $63.84, while BHP Billiton climbed a far more modest 2¢ to $21.85. Alumina also jumped 24¢, or about 3 per cent, to $6.88 after several broker upgrades.

    In the energy sector, Woodside found a very healthy 70¢ to close at $37.08, while Santos managed a far smaller climb of 4¢ to $11.79 and Oil Search rose 7¢ to $3.67.

    Gold miners continued to shine as the price of gold maintained its recent surge. The spot price in Sydney at the close was $US512.3 an ounce, up $US3.925 on Tuesday's close. Newcrest firmed 45¢ to $21.48, Newmont was up 16¢ to $6.44 and Lihir Gold edged ahead 3¢ to $2.11.

    Among media stocks, Ten Network finished up 11¢, or 3.4 per cent, to $3.36. The network earlier had posted a drop in first quarter earnings but said it was confident of retaining advertising market share with its 2006 programs. It posted a 9.5 per cent decline in first quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to $127 million.

    Telstra finished down 1¢ to $3.83. International ratings agency Moody's Investors Service earlier in the day had made good on its threat to downgrade the creditworthiness of Telstra, citing an uncertain telecoms market conditions and regulatory risk. The agency cut Telstra's long term credit rating - which usually affects debt maturing in more than two years - by one notch to A2, from A1, after a three-month review.

    Energy Resources of Australia ended down $2.69, or 20.5 per cent, to $10.44. Three major shareholders in the group have sold their stakes, which together made up a quarter of the uranium miner's issued capital.

    Among banks, Westpac topped the RepuTex corporate social responsibility ratings for the third consecutive year. It finished up 15¢ to $22.05

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