Australian share market closes at two-week high as crude oil prices rise

The Australian share market has closed at a two-week high, posting its biggest day of gains this year after rising oil prices sparked a rally on global markets.

A blizzard on the US east coast has boosted demand for oil, pushing battered crude oil prices sharply higher.

That sparked a rally on Wall Street that set a positive tone for the start to the week in Australia. The market jumped at the open, with gains across the board, and continued to rise through the session.

The All Ordinaries index rallied 1.8 per cent to close at 5,057, while the ASX 200 index added 91 points to finish on 5,007.

Energy shares led the gains, buoyed by those higher oil prices.

LNG Limited added 11.7 per cent to close at 67 cents while Origin Energy gained 5.5 per cent to $4.05.

Bank stocks also underpinned the rally as bargain hunters bought the big four after recent heavy falls.

ANZ fared the best of the major lenders, up 3.4 per cent to $24.15.

The big miners bucked the trend though.

BHP Billiton added just a tenth of a per cent to close at $15.28, and Rio Tinto fell 1.2 per cent to $39.16.

Embattled law firm Slater and Gordon was the best performer of the day.

It jumped 18.6 per cent to close at 70 cents.

Broad recovery outside of mining sector

The National Australia Bank's monthly business survey has found confidence has been resilient despite recent turmoil on global markets.

The survey showed business confidence dipped from five to three in December, while conditions slipped to a reading of seven, which is still above average.

NAB said the positive conditions in most industries suggested there was a relatively broad recovery outside the mining sector, led by services.

Meanwhile, the dollar rose against most major counterparts.

Around 5:00pm AEDT, it bought 70.2 US cents, 64.9 euro cents, 83.3 Japanese yen and 49.1 British pence.

Spot gold was higher at $US1,101 an ounce, West Texas crude was higher at $US32.02 a barrel and Tapis crude was fetching $US34.45 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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