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Australian stocks start marginally stronger; S&P 200 climbs 7.3pts

Australian stocks start marginally stronger; S&P 200 climbs 7.3pts

SYDNEY: Australian stocks started slightly higher following previous week’s positive momentum and as global stocks took the results of the Greek election in their development.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 7.3 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5,509.1, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 7 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 5,475.2.

The market was closed yesterday for the Australia Day holiday.

Greek voters handed power to a radical left party which has spoken out against the fiscal austerity imposed on Greece in exchange for an international bailout for its economy, but stocks in Germany closed higher overnight despite the uncertainty while Wall Street was also unperturbed.

“As a whole equities remain the asset class of choice for investors; and as low interest rates persist, so too does the quest for income,” Rivkin chief executive Scott Schuberg said.

Commodity prices weighed over the market with iron slumping to a five-year low and and crude oil futures dropping after a volatile session of trading.

The materials sector fell by 1.93 percent overall with BHP Billiton down 2.65 per cent to $28.60 and Rio Tinto tumbling 2.83 per cent to $55.25. Lynas fell 11.29 per cent to $5.50 after the release of its quarterly report.

Energy dropped 0.5 percent as a sector. Santos declined 1.03 per cent to $7.72 while Woodside Petroleum rose 0.26 per cent to $34.49. Oil Search dropped 1.89 per cent to $7.78.

Health care provided positive momentum, gaining 1.76 per cent, while information technology rose by 0.72 percent and consumer staples gained 0.89 percent.

Financials rose by 0.37 per cent and industrials by 0.36 per cent.

ANZ led the major banks, rising 0.75 per cent to $32.44, while Commonwealth Bank gained 0.46 per cent to $86.63, National Australia Bank advanced 0.43 per cent to $34.92 and Westpac added 0.41 per cent to $34.46.

The Australian sharemarket posted its biggest weekly gain in two years last week, helped by a European Central Bank stimulus package.

On Friday, the S&P/ASX200 index was up 81.9 points, or 1.51 per cent, at 5,501.8, while the All Ordinaries index rose 77.7 points, or 1.44 per cent, to 5,468.2, propelling the sharemarket to its biggest weekly gain in two years.

The All Ordinaries index finished 3.6 per cent higher for the week, its strongest performance since December 2012, while the ASX200 jumped 3.8 per cent, its best weekly gain in almost a year.

In local economic news on Tuesday, the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence survey and the National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey for December are due out.

Looking further ahead, investors will be watching for Wednesday’s official inflation rate figure, which, if lower than expected, could prompt the Reserve Bank of Australia to an early interest rate cut at its February meeting.