The West

Both indices sail past 5000pt mark

The Australian sharemarket has hit a near three-year high above 5000 points, as bank stocks soar on a better-than-expected profit from Commonwealth Bank.

At 9.03am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 44.8 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 5,003.8 points, its highest point since April 15, 2010.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up 41.9 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 5023.4 points, its highest level since April 12, 2011.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 37 points at 4963 points, with 12,746 contracts traded.

IG Markets market strategist Evan Lucas said the market could hold on to its current levels to close at its highest point since the global financial crisis.

The ASX200 index last closed above 5000 points at the beginning of September, 2008.

The All Ordinaries has not closed above 5000 since since April 2011.

"Obviously there's been two major drivers," Mr Lucas said.

"One being the very good CBA result, and the other thing we saw this morning was the consumer sentiment figures from Westpac.

"That sort of gave the market that tiny push to push it through the 5,000 point mark.

"It's looking very, very impressive."

CBA on Wednesday posted a record cash profit of $3.78 billion for the six months to the end of December, and increased its dividend to shareholders by 20 per cent.

CBA was up $1.63, or 2.5 per cent, to a record high of $67.15.

Westpac was up 76 cents at $28.51, ANZ had added 49.5 cents to $28.055 and NAB was 44 cents higher at $29.37.

"The financial sector is driving the market up ... and you'd expect them to hold onto it going into the close," Mr Lucas said.

The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index recorded a 7.7 per cent rise to 108.3, with a reading above 100 indicating positive sentiment outweighed negative sentiment among respondents.

Construction giant Leighton was another strong performer, after returning to profitability in 2012 with a $450.1 million net profit.

Its shares were up $1.09, or 5.2 per cent, at $21.90.

Resources stocks were more subdued, with BHP up 16 cents at $37.75 and Rio up 32 cents at $69.35.

Medical gloves and condoms maker Ansell posted a 15 per cent fall in first half net profit, and its shares were down $1.10, or 6.5 per cent, at $15.80.

National turnover was 755.1 million securities worth $1.75 billion.

The West Australian

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