The Australian share market shrugged off negative sentiment in early trading on Monday, to close slightly higher as the big banks made up for softness in the resources sector.
At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had risen 9.8 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4861.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had gained 6.1 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 4945.4 points. On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was 10 points higher at 4873 points, with 28,181 contracts traded, according to preliminary figures. In the resources sector, BHP Billiton was off four cents at $47.49, and Rio Tinto dipped 15 cents to $84.00.
Among the major banks, the National Australia Bank was up 10 cents at $26.29, Westpac added 15 cents to $24.95, the Commonwealth Bank found 31 cents at $52.53, and ANZ lifted 12 cents at $23.73. Retailer Woolworths advanced 19 cents at $26.72 after it reported a five per cent lift in third-quarter sales and reaffirmed its full year earnings guidance.
Property developer Leighton Holdings was down 25 cents at $24.63 after its Middle Eastern subsidiary, Al Habtoor Leighton, said it may need a cash injection from its parent firm if ongoing legacy projects are not paid on time. Maintenance and project management firm Transfield Services improved four cents to $3.49 as it and its joint-venture partner WorleyParsons won a $65 million contract with oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum.
WorleyParsons lifted 63 cents to $31.60. Financial services provider Challenger firmed two cents to $4.86 after it upgraded its full year 2011 retail life annuities sales target by 28.5 per cent to $1.8 billion. The national turnover was 2.2 billion shares worth $4.7 billion, with 503 stocks trading up, 597 down and 430 unchanged.