Shares bounce back on Greek hopes
Australian shares snapped a three-day losing streak, as surveys showing a lead in opinion polls for Greece's pro-bailout camps helped calm eurozone turmoil fears and ease risk aversion.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 38.8 points, or 1 per cent, at 4068.0, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained up 39.0 points, or 1 per cent, at 4120.2.
Gains were led by the materials sector, which rose 1.8 per cent. Energy added 1.6 per cent and financials were 1.3 per cent higher. Consumer staples, however, dropped 1 per cent and telcos ended 0.3 per cent lower.
Greek polls lift mood
Investors were encouraged by the latest polls out of Greece showing pro-bailout conservatives had regained the lead against the far-left Syriza Party ahead of next month’s general election.
"The trading mood has been buoyed by news that Greece seems to be warming to the New Democracy Party, with the reduced likelihood of an ugly Greece exit helping to lure some buyers back into stocks," said Tim Waterer, a senior trader at CMC Markets.
Recent heavy falls in riskier stocks might have encouraged buyers back to take advantage of cheaper resources stocks.
The local market pared back some of last week’s losses, thanks to foreign investors taking advantage of a relatively cheaper Australian dollar, to snap up big mining and energy names, Macquarie Private Wealth division director Lucinda Chan said.
‘‘The currency is 98 cents - the lower it goes, the better it is for the Australian market,’’ she said. ‘‘People are repositioning (portfolios) again because the end of the month is coming up.
‘‘Foreign investors are playing the market. Riskier stocks are the main beneficiaries because they were hit so hard last week,’’ Ms Chan said.
Miners lead gains
Resources, energy and banking stocks were the star performers, with Fortescue Metals Group surging 24 cents, or 5.6 per cent, to $4.55 after losing 3.8 per cent on Friday.
Market heavyweight BHP Billiton gained 44 cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $32.05, while Rio Tinto jumped 97 per cent, or 1.7 per cent, to $56.90.
Oil major Woodside Petroleum led the sector higher, finishing up 64 cents, or 2.06 per cent, at $31.64, after it said it would consider returning capital to shareholders if its growth projects were delayed or did not go ahead.
Gold major Newcrest Mining jumped 60 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $25.35.
National Australia Bank led the big four banks up, finishing 35 cents, higher at $23.65, while Macquarie Group surged 69 cents to $26.52.
Department store owner Myer Holdings edged 3 cents higher to $2.00 after suffering heavy falls last week.
Supermarkets buck trend
Consumer staples stocks Woolworths and Wesfarmers bucked the trend, slipping over 1.1 per cent. Woolworths closed down 43 cents at $26.26 and Wesfarmers lost 34 cents to $28.66.
Shares in engineering group Hastie Group were suspended after it collapsed owing about $500 million, with its 44 entities being placed in administration. Hastie’s shares last traded at 16 cents.
Western Australian iron ore producer Atlas Iron jumped 8 per cent. Media reports cited its managing director as saying the firm's share price weakness has left it vulnerable to takeover bids. Its board said it was preparing for a rapid growth phase.
Preliminary market turnover reached 1.3 billion shares worth $3.39 billion, with 530 trading up, 389 down and 370 steady.
The brisk start to the week could only have a short tenure though, Mr Waterer said.
"There is no shortage of potential stumbling blocks for financial markets this week in the way of economic data releases around the globe," he said.
BusinessDay with wires