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Aust shares hit fresh 2016 high

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Published on: Thursday, December 22, 2016

The share market has hit a new high for the year as the seasonal Santa Claus rally rolled on despite negative leads from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P ASX/200 index closed 0.54 per cent higher at 5,643.9 on Thursday, with the biggest gains coming from the consumer staples and telecommunications sectors and from the heavyweight financial stocks.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said investors were flocking to the defensive stocks, including Wesfarmers, Woolworths and the big four banks.

"We are acting independently because the US markets have been drifting sideways in past few days and in Asia it is a sea of red today," Mr Spooner said.

"The defensive sectors like real estate and consumer staples are doing well. The position-taking in those sectors is driving us higher."

He said an absence of bad news and the "Santa Claus rally" effect were behind the gains.

Commonwealth Bank closed 60 cents higher at $82.69, ANZ rose 42 cents to $30.72, National Australia Bank gained 24 cents to $30.80 and Westpac advanced 20 cents to $32.68.

The major supermarkets, Woolworths and Wesfarmers, helped drive the consumer staples higher with gains of 36 cents, 1.52 per cent, to $23.98 and 34 cents, or 0.81 per cent, to $42.41, respectively.

Telecommunication giant Telstra was up four cents, or 0.8 per cent, at $5.07.

Oil and gas producers were mixed after global oil prices fell overnight on news Libya plans to boost oil production and US crude oil inventories showed a surprised lift its stockpiles.

Brent crude oil dropped 1.6 per cent to $US54.49 a barrel.

Woodside Petroleum rose 36 cents to $31.40, Oil Search climbed five cents to $6.93, while Santos eased five cents to $3.92.

Among other stocks, Seven West Media edged 0.5 cents higher to 80 cents after initially dipping on its announcement that the broadcaster will have an independent inquiry into damaging allegations made by a former employee who had an affair with network CEO Tim Worner.

Fuel retailer and supplier Caltex Australia dropped 36 cents, or 1.17 per cent, to $30.45 after it announced a $325 million deal to buy Kiwi fuel retailer Gull New Zealand.

KEY FACTS:

* At the close on Thursday, the S&P ASX/200 index was up 30.4 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 5,643.9.

*The All Ordinaries was up 29.8 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 5,691.8 points.

*The March share price index futures contract was up 27 points at 5,606, with 22,340 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 2.1 billion securities traded, worth $4.7 billion.


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