ASX off to good start

THE Australian market continued its positive run following a US budget deal which triggered a rally on Wall Street overnight.

Lauren Barrett

Trading got off to a good start, with punters feeling optimistic following a deal struck by Congress to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed to an intraday high of 4743.36 in the afternoon and closed up 0.7% to 4740.7 points, extending yesterday’s gains.

The sectors helping to lead the broader market higher included technology and telecommunications which rose 3% and 0.8% respectively.

Strong metal prices helped buoy the miners, with basic materials posting a gain of 1.6%.

Most iron ore miners did especially well on the local bourse.

Fortescue Metals Group gained 2.4% to $A5.04, Grange Resources lifted 6.1% to 35c and Gindalbie Metals posted a 1.8% jump to close at 28c.

Atlas Iron didn’t bask in the same share price gains, instead losing 1.3% to $1.87.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both gained ground, with Rio closing 2.4% higher to $69.25 and BHP adding 0.8% to $38.15.

Some of the bigger movers of the day in percentage terms included Intrepid Mines, up 10% to 22c, while Mirabela Nickel enjoyed an 8.6% gain to close at 57c.

Meanwhile, shares in Aquarius Platinum jumped 12.9% to $1 on no news.

Gold stocks fared well, with Newcrest Mining up 3.1% to $23.70.

Perseus Mining finished up 4.3% to $2.20 despite flagging Edikan mine gold production would be well below the original guidance.

Papillon Resources announced it had been admitted to the S&P/ASX 2OO index following recent changes to the indices.

The Australian dollar was trading slightly lower at $US1.048.