Share market closes higher after release of China's GDP growth

The share market has closed higher for just the second time this year, after China's latest growth figures boosted stocks there.

China's GDP growth slowed to 6.9 per cent last year, matching the authorities' target of "about 7 per cent".

It is the slowest growth pace in 25 years and markets were on edge in anticipation of the data, but Chinese stocks rose after the release, prompting a sigh of relief for traders across Asia.

The All Ordinaries index gained 0.9 per cent to close at 4,955.

The ASX 200 index added 44 points to finish on 4,903.

It was another day of losses for energy stocks, as oil prices remained below $US30 a barrel, making energy the worst-performing sector.

Whitehaven Coal fared the worst, down 6.2 per cent to 46 cents.

Mining shares were in favour, helped by more gains for gold miners.

Regis led the way, up 7.1 per cent to $2.56.

Elsewhere in the sector, Rio Tinto reported an 11 per cent rise in iron-ore shipments for both the fourth quarter and the year, beating analysts' expectations.

Production was up 10 per cent for the quarter and 11 per cent for the year, which was lower than expected.

Rio Tinto shares closed 0.33 per cent higher at $38.82.

BHP Billiton added 0.7 per cent to $14.73.

And the big four banks all rose, with Westpac leading the way, up 1.3 per cent to $31.18.

Grocery stocks bucked the trend, as traders digest moves in the hardware divisions of the supermarket giants Woolworths and Wesfarmers.

Woolworths lost 1.3 per cent to $23.35, erasing some of yesterday's big gains.

The Australian dollar has risen since the release of the Chinese growth figures, buying 69.1 US cents. It is also fetching 63.5 euro cents, 81.4 Japanese yen and 48.4 British pence.

In commodities, spot gold is slightly lower at $US1,089 an ounce.

West Texas crude is buying $US29.40 a barrel and Tapis crude is fetching $US30.14 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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