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 0.7902 0.0042 0.53%
AUD 0.9095 -0.0021 -0.23%
EUR 0.6359 0.0093 1.48%
GBP 0.5044 0.0034 0.68%
HKD 6.1310 0.0346 0.57%
JPY 93.1140 0.1720 0.19%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1193.4 -0.480 2014-11-20T00:
Oil Brent 78.7 -0.130 2014-11-20T00:
Oil Nymex 75.8 1.320 2014-11-20T00:
Silver Index 16.1 -0.150 2014-11-20T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5526.9 5526.9 5526.9 -0.56%
NASDAQ 4655.2 4703.0 4675.7 0.56%
DAX 9521.2 9668.6 9484.0 1.76%
DJI 17677.3 17720.4 17685.7 0.19%
FTSE 6678.9 6742.5 6678.9 0.95%
HKSE 23353.7 23508.0 23349.6 0.37%
NI225 17285.7 17381.6 17300.9 0.33%