The ASX may open higher. Picture: Reuters.
The ASX may open higher. Picture: Reuters.

The Australian sharemarket played catch-up to offshore markets as a jump in domestic business confidence emboldened bullish investors.

Outstripping the 0.3 per cent gain on the US S&P 500 last night the S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 73.3 points, or 1.34 percent, to 5530.3 on below average volume as dividend hunters lined up for a string of high-profile earnings reports this week.

Global risk appetite improved overnight despite NATO officials saying Russia had not withdrawn troops from Ukraine’s border and the S&P 500 finished near the day’s low.

National Australia Bank currency strategist Emma Lawson said it was a quiet night “where many are struggling to see a theme, catalyst or news flow of interest”.

“Late summer trading and no data has markets drifting; which is likely to last a few more days,” she said.

“Geopolitical news trickles through but is largely being dismissed.”

The Australian dollar slipped US0.2¢ to US92.60¢ as the US dollar rallied against most major currencies, while government 10-year yields climbed 2.1 points to 3.426 per cent.

The NAB business confidence index climbed 3 points to 11 points but the ANZ Roy Morgan consumer confidence index fell 6.5 points to 108.5 points.

The Shanghai composite index was off 0.4 per cent at the close of the ASX as investors eagerly awaited China’s lending data for clues on the growth and earnings outlook.

In Tokyo the Nikkei index was up 0.1 per cent.

Spot iron ore slipped 0.2 per cent to $US95.30 a tonne yesterday while Dalian iron ore futures fell one per cent today.

Copper fell one per cent to $US6975 a tonne and gold was flat at $US1306 an ounce.

IG market strategist Stan Shamu said the local market had outperformed the region, with the banks “really ramping up” ahead of the release of Commonwealth Bank’s full-year results tomorrow.

“All the big banks have posted gains of at least one per cent and this has driven the local market’s gains,” Mr Shamu said.

Investors in Australia and overseas were becoming less concerned with geopolitical tensions.

Positive local business confidence data released on Tuesday contributed towards the banking gains.

The big banks all performed well with Westpac gaining 61 cents to $33.58, ANZ lifted 44 cents to $32.88, NAB rose 48 cents to $34.40 and Commonwealth Bank rose $1.28 cents to $81.69.The local resource sector also performed strongly.

BHP Billiton was up 56 cents to $38.58, Rio Tinto had gained $1.07 to $67.82 and Fortescue Metals had lifted nine cents to $4.63.

Meanwhile, supermarket giant Woolworths was weaker after forecasting bigger-than-expected losses from its Masters home improvement business.

Its shares were down 13 cents to $35.74.In other earning results news, a profit boost sent Domino’s Pizza shares up $2.78 or 13.5 per cent to $23.39.

Shares in engineering group Bradken were up 34 cents, or 7.9 per cent to $4.66 despite the company’s full year net profit more than halving.

Online travel group added one cent to $3.32 after it suffered a 15 per cent slide in its full year profit.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 73.7 points, or 1.35 per cent, at 5523.1, according to preliminary figures.

The September share price index futures contract was 79 points higher at 5473, with 35,892 contracts traded.

National turnover was 1.7 billion shares worth $4.3 billion.


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