Energy stocks drive Australian share market higher

A late rally has taken the Australian share market to gains of more than 0.5 per cent, led by a surge in energy stocks.

The benchmark ASX 200 index gained 30 points to close at 5,198, after sitting in the red for much of the day.

The broader All Ordinaries index gained 0.6 per cent to 5,228.

Energy stocks were the main driver of the rally after a surge in crude oil prices.

The benchmark Brent price is almost back to $US52.50 a barrel, with West Texas about $US48.50. That saw the most indebted and vulnerable Australian oil and gas producers rally very strongly.

Santos jumped almost 12 per cent to $5.70, while Origin rose almost 10 per cent to $6.10, despite recently going to the market to sell new shares at just $4.

Australian industry giant Woodside also leapt 6 per cent to $32.10.

Despite the world's biggest commodity consumer, China, having been on holiday for about a week, other resources companies also rose strongly.

Fortescue closed more than 6 per cent higher at $2.10, Rio Tinto gained more than 3 per cent and BHP Billiton was up more than 1.5 per cent.

The big four banks all managed gains by the end of trade, with ANZ and National Australia Bank up 0.9 per cent.

The rest of the market was a little mixed.

Telstra eased 0.7 per cent after its head of retail Gordon Ballantyne announced he was leaving the company after five years. It closed at $5.66.

Insurance Australia Group initially fell after its chief executive of more than seven years, Mike Wilkins, announced he would leave the role next month. He will be replaced by an internal candidate, Peter Harmer.

IAG shares bounced back to close up a cent at $4.98.

The Australian dollar rallied on the commodities bounce and was worth 71.8 US cents around 5:00pm (AEDT). Spot gold rose to $US1,150 an ounce.

Source: ABC News

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