The West

Local stocks firmer  mid-session
Local stocks firmer mid-session

Australian stocks are firmer, as strong gains from mining companies help push the broader market higher.

At 10.12am today, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 3.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 4400.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 8.4 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 4418.6 points.

On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was up nine points at 4401 points, with 41,414 contracts traded.

The local market opened about 0.1 per cent higher and managed to extend the slender gain through morning trade.

The top-three movers, in percentage terms, on the S&P/ASX20 were mining stocks.

BHP had risen 2.51 per cent, or 83.5 cents, to $34.145, while Rio Tinto was up 1.82 per cent, or $1.82, to $57.61.

Gold miner Newcrest was 1.8 per cent, or 51 cents, higher at $28.87.

Financial stocks, another market sector big contributor, were up 0.43 per cent, according to IRESS data.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said firmer commodities prices during Friday night's offshore session - when futures contract prices for key commodities such as oil, gold and copper settled firmer - was behind the lift in resources stocks on Monday.

"That's why we are seeing the miners doing particularly well," Mr Daghlian said.

"It really is the mining sector at the moment, and the financials, holding the rest of the market up."

Traditionally defensive market sectors, such Healthcare (down 1.64 per cent), utilities (down 1.25 per cent) and consumer staples (down 0.75 per cent), were lower at 1212 AEST.

Making news today, Northern Iron said it was suspending its exploration program as part of a cost-cutting initiative to help weather the impact of falling iron ore prices.

Northern Iron was down 6.5 cents, or 5.85 per cent, at 80 cents.

Leighton Holdings said its Victorian desalination plant had successfully produced drinking water for the past seven days during the first phase of its testing process.

Leighton was up 92 cents at $16.65.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,775.10 per fine ounce, up $US1.09 from Friday's local close of $US1,774.01 per ounce.

National turnover was 733.8 million securities worth $1.7 billion, with 387 stocks up, 397 down and 298 unchanged.

The West Australian

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