Shares end higher, led by big banks

Business, Normal

The National, Monday 25th March 2013

 SYDNEY: Australian shares closed slightly higher after solid gains for the major banks offset weak overseas leads.

At the close last Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 7.9 points, or 0.16%, at 4,967.3 points.

The broader All Ordinaries index was up four points, or 0.08%, at 4,980.8 points.

CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer said Australian shares staged a recovery from a negative opening as the major banks dragged the market higher.

“Despite the poor offshore lead the Australian market put on a brave face today largely thanks to the firm showing by the major banking stocks,” he said.

“However, outside of the financials other segments of the market were pulling back in anticipation of potentially more volatility stemming from Europe over coming weeks.”

National Australia Bank closed A$0.28 higher to A$30.63, ANZ jumped A$0.41 to $28.55 and Westpac surged A$0.42 to A$30.50.

However Commonwealth Bank fell A$0.02, or 0.03%, to A$68.63.

Leighton Holdings shares plunged A$1.50 to A$20.20 after the construction giant announced a shake-up of its board due to pressure from a major shareholder. – AAP