Bears in retreat as bulls rule the day

AFTER three wishy-washy days of trading, strong offshore leads saw the Australian market open 2% higher and hold on to the gains.

Kristie Batten

With the exception of Japan’s Nikkei, all of the major overseas indexes closed around 2% higher overnight, setting up a good base for local traders.

The S&P-ASX 200 got close to touching the 3800-point mark, climbing to 3799.3 points at around 3:30pm EST.

However, the index finished 2.3% or 85.2 points up to 3780.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index closed 2.2% or 82.8 points up to 3744.7.

Shaw Stockbroking head of trading Jamie Spiteri told Dow Jones Newswires that he expected a strong performance for the end of the month today.

"It's getting to the point where the bears are forced to give up," he said.

Though miners were strong, there was no standout sector with industrials, financials, health care and consumer discretionary all contributing to the gains.

Rio Tinto had a good session, gaining 5% or $3.08 to $64.43, while OZ Minerals also continued to rise, adding another 6% today or 4c to finish up on 75c.

BHP Billiton rose 3% or $1 to $33.27, while Mount Gibson Iron added 7.6% or 4.5c to 63c.

Base metals made up some of the losses from the past week or so, with zinc rising 5.7% to $US1386.50 per tonne.

Copper increased by 4.5% to $4371.50/t, nickel added 3.5% to $11,253/t, and lead gained 2.8% to 1326.50/t.

Three of the top five traded companies on the bourse today were resource stocks with junior explorer Hawthorn Resources in first place with a whopping 105 million shares traded.

The company’s shares rose 9% or 0.1c to 1.2c.

Not far behind was Sundance Resources with 86 million shares changing hands, while its share price jumped 18% or 1.7c to 11c after a capital raising yesterday and the release of its quarterly today.

Beacon Minerals was the other heavily traded miner with 40 million shares traded, though its share price dropped 6% or 0.1c to 1.6c.

Engineers Emerson Stewart jumped 17% or 1c to 7c despite announcing that profits for the current quarter are likely to be modest due to cancellations of contracts, particularly from resources companies.

Finally, International Resource Holdings saw its share price soar more than 360% or 4.7c to 6c after announcing the acquisition of private underground coal gasification company Clean Global Energy.