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Aust market inches higher by the close

 

The Australian share market ended the first trading day of the week slightly higher amid lower volumes ahead of this week's key data releases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 0.07 per cent at 5,998.3 points at 1630 AEDT on Monday, with modest gains for the miners, banks and energy companies propping up the bourse.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said that, despite modest US and European leads, the local markets had a disappointing day of "almost holiday affected" trade.

"It was a disappointing session: the US dollar is strengthening and there's been overnight leads but volumes are down around 20 per cent, which all suggests a degree of caution ahead of market moving data later in the week," Mr McCarthy said.

Locally, the energy companies were higher on the near two per cent rise in global oil prices, with Santos gaining one per cent per cent at $5.05, Woodside up 0.6 per cent to $31.75 and Oil Search 0.6 per cent stronger to $7.30.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto also ended the day 0.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent higher respectively, while Fortescue Metals gained 1.1 per cent, with a strong trade report from China on Friday offsetting recent volatility in the price of iron ore.

The major banks were mixed, with Commonwealth Bank ahead by 0.5 per cent, the ANZ steady, and National Australia Bank and Westpac losing 0.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Shares in Retail Food Group, the owner of such staples as Gloria Jean's, Donut King and Brumby's Bakery's, collapsed 26.1 per cent to $3.25 - a more-than-five-year low - after allegations its business model was running franchisees into the ground.

Shares in Downer EDI were 0.9 per cent higher, after the engineering group's tie up with Ausenco secured a major contract with Oz Minerals.

AWE Limited shares have jumped 16.4 per cent to an 18-month high of 85 cents after the takeover target said it received a rival bid from Mineral Resources, valuing it at $484 million, countering last week's second bid from a Chinese state owned energy corporation.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is above 75 US cents against a rising greenback, which lifted following better-than-expected US jobs figures and the anticipation if an interest rate rise this week.

The local currency was trading at 75.27 US cents at 1630 AEDT, from 75.14 on Friday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed up 3.9 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5,998.3 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 4.5 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,081.9 points

* The SPI200 futures contract were flat at 6,004 points

* National turnover was 4.466 billion securities traded worth $5.129 billion

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.25 US cents, from 75.14 on Friday

* 85.46 Japanese yen, from 85.20 yen

* 63.89 euro cents, from 63.86 euro cents

* 56.17 British pence, from 55.61 pence

* 108.98 NZ cents, from 109.89 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,249.44 per fine ounce, from $US1,249.28 per fine ounce on Friday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8874pct, from 1.8628pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5177pct, from 2.4911pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.4225 (implying a yield of 2.5775pct), from 97.455 (implying a yield of 2.545pct) on Friday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.005 (1.995pct), from 98.03 (1.97pct)

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)