The market has closed modestly higher. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.
The market has closed modestly higher. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian.

Chinese stimulus hopes and improved US data lifted the Australian sharemarket into the black in quiet trade ahead of the US public holiday tonight.

Following the marginal rise to a record high on Wall Street on Friday the S&P/ASX gained 20 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 5512.8 points as a bounce in iron ore futures sparked bargain hunting in miners.

Sentiment was boosted after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said the nation would fine-tune policy to support the economy struggling to rebalance from infrastructure investment.

The Shanghai composite index was up 0.2 per cent at the close of the ASX.

In Tokyo the Nikkei index was up 0.8 per cent.

Dalian iron ore futures were up one per cent today while spot iron ore fell 1.3 per cent to US97.50 a tonne on Friday.

Despite easier monetary conditions in China, Westpac economist Huw McKay said credit supply remained an issue for those parts of the corporate sector where excess capacity was evident, such as thermal coal mining, parts of heavy industry, property developers with a heavy exposure to over-built fourth tier cities and peripheral regions.

The Australian dollar was steady at US92.35¢ but Government 10-year yields slipped 3.3 points to 3.75 per cent as bond markets failed to follow the exuberance in global equity markets. US 10-years slipped 2 points to 2.53 per cent.

Signalling ongoing loss of global growth momentum the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy analysis said world trade fell 0.5 per cent in March following a 0.7 per cent decline in February, with most of the slowdown in emerging markets imports.

The report said exports from advanced economies fell, especially from Japan and the eurozone.

This outlook was confirmed by the German IFO survey on Friday where all there readings -business climate, expectations and current conditions - fell versus April and came in below expectations.

Attention today is on European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s speech for further hints the eurozone was shifting towards quantitative easing.

Gold was little changed at $US1292 an ounce while copper climbed 0.7 per cent to $US6945 a tonne.

Australian Stock Report equity analyst Benny Sada said record highs in the US kicked the local market into gear on Monday despite weaker iron ore prices.

“We’ve enjoyed a positive start to the week and that’s really flowed through from the gains that we saw on US markets and European markets on Friday night,” Mr Sada said.

“The gains have been widespread. There has been no economic catalyst, it’s just positive sentiment.”

Trading volumes were also low, with markets in the US and UK closed on Monday for public holidays.

The nation’s big miners performed well despite the price of iron ore falling further at the weekend to $US97.50 a tonne.

BHP Billiton rose 26 cents to $37.91, Rio Tinto added 41 cents at $60.95 and Fortescue Metals firmed five cents to $4.56.

But smaller iron ore players did not fare as well, with Atlas Iron losing half a cent to 71.5 cents and BC Iron falling three cents to $3.64.

The major banks were mixed, with Westpac up three cents to $34.16 and ANZ was seven cents higher at $33.67.

National Australia Bank fell five cents to $33.52, while Commonwealth Bank approached new record highs, lifting 25 cents to $81.56.

Making news, private equity group Pacific Equity Partners launched a $1.1 billion takeover bid for information services group SAI Global, as the latter sacked chief executive Stephen Porges.

SAI shares were up 73 cents, or 17 per cent, at $5.01.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 20.1 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 5490.4.

The June share price index futures contract was 11 points higher at 5522, with 8,697 contracts traded.

National turnover was 1.2 billion securities worth $2.5 billion.

AAP

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