PERTH: The Australian stocks scored a strong gain, in spite of another period of losses for mining and energy firms.
Returning from the long weekend break, the All Ordinaries index closed up 43 points at 5,512 and the ASX 200 added 45 points to 5,547.
Finance stocks helped drive the rise, with most major banks recording gains.
The Commonwealth led the way with a rise of 1.6 per cent, followed by a 1.2 per cent rise of ANZ, 1.1 per cent for NAB and 0.7 per cent for Westpac.
Telstra added 1.6 per cent, Woolworths gained 2.9 per cent and Coles’ parent company Wesfarmers rose 1.25 per cent.
The gains offset significant resources and energy losses, in the wake of falling iron ore and other commodity prices.
Santos lost 3.1 per cent, Oil Search fell 3.4 per cent and Woodside slipped 0.4 per cent.
BHP Billiton closed 1.5 per cent lower, Rio Tinto trimmed its loss to 0.1 per cent, Fortescue lost 2.4 per cent and gold miner Newcrest slid 1.7 per cent.
There was continued evidence of weakness for the Australian economy.
National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey showed business conditions slipped last month.
Business confidence rose slightly but remained well below the long-term average.
After barely moving throughout the day, tapis crude oil was selling for $US48.96 a barrel.
West Texas crude was selling for $US44.77 cents a barrel, after falling overnight.
Spot gold was trading at around $US1,279 an ounce.
The Australian dollar remained firmly below 80 US cents and was buying about 79.4 US cents, 70.6 euro cents, 52.6 British pence, 93.8 Japanese yen and 106.8 New Zealand cents.