Aust shares at highest level in 16 months

(Australian Associated Press)

Australian shares are at their highest level since August 2015, following overnight gains on Wall Street, healthy local retail sales and strong commodity prices.

At 1200 AEDT the benchmark ASX/S&P200 was up 0.93 per cent, at 5,680.5 points.

The mining giants made strong gains after overnight rises in copper and iron ore prices and retailers were lifted amid positive signs for post-Christmas sales.

The index is now closing in on the level of 5,700, which it last breached on July 21, 2015.

Woolworths rallied after announcing it plans to sell its 527 fuel outlets to BP for $1.78 billion.

Its shares were up 47 cents – a near two per cent gain – at $24.32.

Caltex Australia, which failed in its bid for the Woolworths outlets, fell by 20 cents, or 0.65 per cent, to $30.40.

ON THE ASX:

* At 1200 AEDT the benchmark ASX/S&P200 was up 52.6 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 5,680.5 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was 51.3 points, or 0.9 per cent, higher at 5,726.4.

* The March SPI200 futures contract was up 40 points at 5,639 points with 8,515 contracts traded.

* National turnover was one billion securities traded, worth $1.3 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.93 US cents, from 72.07 US cents on Friday

* 84.57 Japanese yen, from 84.62 yen

* 68.74 euro cents, from 68.98 euro cents

* 58.54 British pence, from 58.62 pence

* 104.25 New Zealand cents, from 104.36 NZ cents

BOND SNAPSHOT

* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 2.000pct, up from 1.995pct on Friday.

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.809pct, up from 2.802pctpct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.090 (implying a yield of 2.910pct), unchanged from Friday.

* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.850 (2.150pct), down from 97.870 (2.130pct).

(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEST previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session)

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