Aust market lifts but lacks firm direction

The Australian share market has closed higher for a second session in a row in the wake of positive overseas leads and better-than-expected Chinese manufacturing data.

‘The market’s pulled back from the precipice but nothing much has really changed,’ CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said.

Mr McCarthy said better-than-expected Chinese manufacturing figures had helped boost the local bourse on Thursday.

Australia’s resources sector largely depends on demand from China.

But Mr McCarthy said the market was still experiencing volatile trading within a range of 4,900 and 5,300 points and needed a catalyst to break out.

‘That might come with a US rate rise,’ he said.

He said the US Federal Reserve may move to lift US interest rates this month, after a September decision to hold rates created uncertainty on global markets.

Figures released on Thursday showed that Chinese manufacturing activity continued to contract in September but had improved on the prior month.

An official manufacturing index based on a survey of factory purchasing managers edged up to 49.8 points in September from August’s 49.7 points.

Numbers below 50 on the 100-point scale indicate contraction and numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

On the local bourse, in the resources sector, global mining giant BHP Billiton lifted 46 cents to $22.68, Rio Tinto added 98 cents to $49.58, and Fortescue Metals dipped 2.5 cents to $1.795.

Gold and copper miner OZ Minerals soared 64 cents, or 19.34 per cent, to $3.95 on a media report that global private equity firm KKR Co was trying to buy a 10 per cent stake.

Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was up 83 cents at $29.76, and Santos found 19 cents at $4.17.

Steel and mining group Arrium was up 0.2 cents at 8.9 cents as it said it was shortlisting parties to undertake due diligence for its mining consumables business.

Among the big four banks, ANZ ascended 44 cents to $27.52 after the lender said chief executive Mike Smith would step down on December 31 and hand over to chief financial officer Shayne Elliott.

Commonwealth Bank put on $1.55 at $74.27, Westpac gained 69 cents at $30.39, and National Australia Bank firmed 56 cents to $30.54.

Source AAP