The market has closed slightly firmer. Picture: Getty Images.
The market has closed slightly firmer. Picture: Getty Images.

Bargain hunters shrugged off weaker iron ore and steel prices to reverse early losses on the Australian sharemarket today.

Jitters from the rapid rise of radical Islamist militants in Iraq knocked the S&P/ASX 200 index 0.5 per cent down in early trade but it rallied to close 7.2 points, or 0.13 per cent, up at 5412.3 with miners leading the rebound.

However, Dalian iron ore futures were off another 0.5 per cent, pointing to a fresh 20-month low in spot iron ore which dropped per cent to $US90.90 tonne on Friday, while steel rebar futures were down 0.6 per cent as investors come to terms with China’s determination to rebalance away from investment driven growth.

“If prices fall below $US90/t we could see a new trading range of between $US85-90/t throughout the week,” ANZ strategists said.

“Our view is that markets are more sensitive to positive news than negative, although with the absence of any notable Chinese stimulus, buyers are happy to wait to find the bottom.”

China Securities journal reported that a People’s bank of China official said investors should realise that the economy was in “quasi- deflation” mode and a prudent monetary policy should focus on lowering funding costs, while expectations were for further targeted cuts in reserve requirement for rural banks.

The Shanghai composite index was up 0.5 per cent at the close of the ASX, buoyed by energy stocks after President Xi Jinping said the nation needed to find new ways to produce and consume fuels to ensure its long-term security.

In Tokyo the Nikkei index fell one per cent as the yen rallied against most major currencies.

The Australian dollar dropped from Friday’s high of US94.35¢ to US94¢ and Government 10-year yields lost 3.9 points to 3.745 per cent as rising oil prices dented the global growth outlook and underpinning the demand for safe-haven bonds.

US 10-year yields slipped one point to 2.59 per cent after consumer confidence fell and the US producer price index fell 0.2 per cent last month, swinging attention firmly onto the US Federal Reserve monetary policy announcement on Wednesday night.

Despite weakening US data over the past few weeks there has been some speculation the Fed could ramp up the pace of tapering its bond purchasing program from $US10 to $US15 billion a month, while some economists believe chairman Janet Yellen could give stronger hints that rates could rise more rapidly from zero if employment rates keep on improving.

Gold climbed US9 to $US1282 an ounce and copper rose 0.5 per cent to $US6670 a tonne.

Despite lingering concerns about unrest in the Middle East, there had been a reversal of sentiment in afternoon trade, CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said.

"Geo-political tensions in the Middle East remain the key market concern,” he said.

"However the effect on commodity supply had local investors overlooking the potential de-railing of European economic recovery."

Gold, energy and general mining stocks pushed the resources sector to a market leading performance, Mr McCarthy said.

Rio Tinto added 42 cents to $58.02, BHP Billiton gained 33 cents to $35.62 while Fortescue Metals was steady at $4.06.

Newcrest lifted 34 cents to $10.22 and Resolute Mining was three cents higher at 65 cents.

Among the major banks, ANZ was the best performer, gaining 31 cents to $34.06, while Westpac put on four cents to $34.30, Commonwealth Bank fell 13 cents to $81.60 and National Australia Bank lost two cents to $33.19.

Super Retail Group followed a string of other retailers in downgrading profit forecasts, blaming the tough federal budget for a slip in sales in May.

However its shares bounced back from early losses to close 27 cents higher at $8.32.

David Jones shares were the heaviest traded on the market, amid reports Solomon Lew was looking to increase his stake.

The shares dropped five cents to $3.86.

Engineering and property services group UGL also recovered from early falls, adding four cents to $6.98 after selling its real estate business DTZ for $1.2 billion.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 6.9 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5390.6.

The June share price index futures contract was 10 points higher at 5415, with 100,586 contracts traded.

National turnover was 1.4 billion securities worth $3.9 billion.


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