Australian share market steady despite losses on Wall Street

Australian stocks have had a steady start to the week, shrugging off losses on Wall Street.

Trading volumes were light in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday break.

The All Ordinaries Index gained one point to close at 5,158 and the ASX 200 index added two points to finish on 5,109.

Energy stocks had the biggest gains despite another fall in the oil price.

LNG Limited led the sector higher on a gain of 8.8 per cent to close at 75 cents and the embattled oil and gas producer Santos added 4 per cent to close at $3.60.

Mining stocks also advanced as the iron ore miner Fortescue Metals gained 2.6 per cent to $1.77, and BHP Billiton added 1.5 per cent to $17.13.

The big banks were mostly higher as ANZ led the way on a gain of 1.2 per cent to $26.79.

Westpac was the only one to retreat, down 3 cents to $32.25.

Crown Resorts share price jumps after James Packer quits board

Crown Resorts jumped by 4.1 per cent to close at $12.08 on the same day James Packer quit the board of the casino operator, effective immediately.

Mr Packer stepped down as chairman four months ago. The move is part of his plan to focus more on the casino business.

He is the single biggest shareholder of Crown, with a 53 per cent stake.

Crown's main rival Star Entertainment closed down 0.2 per cent at $4.92.

Vitamin maker Blackmores continued its stellar run, fuelled by hopes of more sales in China. Its shares added another 5 per cent to close on $214.77.

The dollar is slightly lower against most major counterparts.

Around 5:00pm (AEDT), it was buying $US71.7 cents, 65.9 euro cents, 87 Japanese yen and 48 British pence.

Spot gold was buying $US1,069 dollars an ounce. West Texas crude was buying $US34.67 a barrel and in Singapore, Tapis crude was fetching $US38.02 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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