The West

The market has closed only modestly firmer despite a solid opening rally. Picture: AP.
The market has closed only modestly firmer despite a solid opening rally. Picture: AP.

Strength in the resources sector has pushed Australian shares higher, although the market lost some ground after China's finance minister lowered expectations for the country's economic growth.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 8.2 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 4973.9 while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 10.6 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 4957.5.

The S&P/ASX200 index passed 5,000 points in morning trade, as the market followed a positive lead from Wall Street early.

But that momentum waned as the day went on, particularly because of comments made by Lou Jiwei after a meeting with his US counterparts in Washington.

He said China's economy should achieve a seven per cent growth rate this year, lower than the previously forecast 7.5 per cent.

IG market strategist Chris Weston said this had a slight impact on the market, but investors were already expecting a slower growth rate from China.

"Certainly this is not a new story and it's well known that the People's Bank of China and the ruling party are happy to accept slower growth, with a keener focus on reforming the banking sector,” Mr Weston said.

China's economic growth figures are to be released on Monday.

BHP Billiton shares gained 47 cents to $33.31, Rio Tinto added 42 cents to $54.74 and Fortescue Metals closed nine cents higher at $3.54.

Gold miner Newcrest posted another strong day, adding 99 cents, or 8.9 per cent, to $12.09.

Gains by the resources sector over the whole week helped the local market post its strongest weekly performance since the end of April.

Bank stocks dropped, with Westpac losing 38 cents to $29.11, NAB dropped four cents to $29.94, ANZ shed 26 cents to $28.72 and Commonwealth Bank was 44 cents lower at $70.97.

Insurers performed better, with AMP up seven cents at $4.60, Suncorp up 31 cents at $12.46 and IAG 13 cents higher at $5.92.


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