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 0.7443 0.0029 0.39%
AUD 0.9410 -0.0003 -0.03%
EUR 0.6625 -0.0038 -0.57%
GBP 0.4957 0.0014 0.28%
HKD 5.7697 0.0222 0.39%
JPY 87.9820 0.9860 1.13%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1292.6 -7.090 2015-01-23T00:
Oil Brent 49.9 0.320 2015-01-23T00:
Oil Nymex 45.6 -0.820 2015-01-23T00:
Silver Index 18.3 -0.060 2015-01-23T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 5675.2 5703.0 5675.2 0.41%
NASDAQ 4748.2 4771.2 4750.4 0.16%
DAX 10593.0 10744.6 10649.6 0.75%
DJI 17812.5 17812.5 17814.0 -0.79%
FTSE 6832.8 6841.3 6832.8 -0.40%
HKSE 24907.2 24916.5 24850.5 0.24%
NI225 17285.7 17471.9 17511.8 -0.25%