Australian shares hit 17-month high

The Australian share market has hit a 17-month high as retailers rose on Christmas shopping figures and Fortescue Metals announcing it would restart a major project.

Fortescue rose 4.1% after say it will resume work expanding the $A1.1 billion Kings deposit at its Solomon iron ore mining hub in the Pilbara next month January because of a pick up in commodity prices.

Iron ore prices have risen from a low of $US86.70 on September 5 to about $US135 this week. Other mining companies, including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, also climbed.

Retail stocks advanced as shoppers lapped up post-Christmas sales. Department stores Myer and David Jones gained 2.9% and 3%, respectively. Electrical retailer Harvey Norman climbed 1.6% and JB Hi-Fi was up 0.3%.

The banks put in a mixed performance. National Australia Bank rose 0.3%, while Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank dropped 0.2-0.3%.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.8 points, or 0.3%, at 4648, its highest closing level since July 8, 2011.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 0.3%, at 4661.4, its highest since July 22, 2011.

• New Zealand stocks rose in light holiday trading, helped by gains in Fletcher Building. Hellaby Holdings rose 15c to $3.20 after announcing its 85% shareholding in Contract Resources.

The NZX 50 Index rose 7.627 points, or 0.2%, to 4065.447. Within the index, 20 stocks rose, 18 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was a lower-than-average $46 million.

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NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.7878 -0.0004 -0.05%
AUD 0.9091 0.0005 0.06%
EUR 0.6356 -0.0003 -0.05%
GBP 0.5032 0.0001 0.02%
HKD 6.1123 -0.0013 -0.02%
JPY 92.8410 0.0020 0.00%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1201.1 7.690 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Brent 78.6 -0.120 2014-11-21T00:
Oil Nymex 76.5 0.710 2014-11-21T00:
Silver Index 16.4 0.260 2014-11-21T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5526.9 5526.9 5526.9 -0.56%
NASDAQ 4751.0 4751.6 4701.9 0.24%
DAX 9521.2 9736.1 9484.0 2.62%
DJI 17721.0 17894.8 17719.0 0.51%
FTSE 6678.9 6773.1 6678.9 1.08%
HKSE 23353.7 23508.0 23349.6 0.37%
NI225 17285.7 17381.6 17300.9 0.33%