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 0.7759 0.0061 0.79%
AUD 0.9504 0.0035 0.37%
EUR 0.6317 0.0078 1.25%
GBP 0.4951 0.0011 0.22%
HKD 6.0186 0.0486 0.81%
JPY 92.1830 0.7280 0.80%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1189.4 -7.590 2014-12-17T00:
Oil Brent 61.2 -2.590 2014-12-17T00:
Oil Nymex 56.8 0.570 2014-12-17T00:
Silver Index 15.9 0.176 2014-12-17T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5518.5 5531.4 5518.5 0.18%
NASDAQ 4712.4 4748.4 4644.3 2.24%
DAX 9711.6 9811.1 9544.4 2.79%
DJI 17367.8 17778.4 17356.9 2.43%
FTSE 6336.5 6466.0 6336.5 2.04%
HKSE 22878.3 22935.0 22585.8 1.09%
NI225 17143.0 17274.2 16819.7 2.32%