Shares end higher on energy and bank stocks

Australian shares have had a strong start to the week with gains in most sectors, led by a bump up in energy and bank stocks.

Markets at 5:47pm (AEST)

ASX 200 +0.7% to 5,538, All Ords +0.7% to 5,626

Major gains: Flight Centre +5.5% to $33.40, Bluescope +4.7% to $8.44, Flexigroup +4.3% to $1.94

Major losses: Northern Star -5.9% to $4.94, Newcrest -4.2% to $24.61, St Barbara -4.6% to $3.13

Futures: Euro STOXX 600 +0.4% to 341.5, FTSE +0.5% to 6,777, S&P 500 +0.2% to 2,180

AUD: 76.3 US cents, 58.4 British pence, 77.9 Japanese yen, 68.7 euro cents, $NZ1.07

The ASX 200 posted its biggest one day gain since July 11, rising 0.7 per cent.

Energy stocks had the biggest gain as Whitehaven Coal led the sector higher, up 4.3 per cent to $1.94, near a two-year high.

Banks jumped after last week's losses, as Bendigo and Adelaide Bank kicked off bank reporting season. It reported a small 2 per cent fall in full-year net profit to $416 million, as low interest rates squeezed profit margins. But the bank lifted its full-year dividend by two cents, taking the full-year payout to 68 cents per share.

Bendigo was the best performing stock for the day as investors welcomed that news, with shares jumping 4.3 per cent to $10.15.

ANZ fared the best of the big four banks, up 1.8 per cent to $25.70.

The mining sector was broadly higher, as BHP Billiton added 2.3 per cent to three-week highs of $20.48

But gold miners dropped as the price for spot gold steadied to buy $US1,335 an ounce after tumbling last week. Newcrest Mining lost 4.2 per cent to $24.61.

Utility companies also had a soft session as investors opted out of sectors considered to be lower risk.

Spark Infrastructure lost 1.2 per cent to $2.57, while telecommunications company Telstra lost 0.9 per cent to $5.61, ahead of its full-year results due out later this week.

In commodities trade, oil prices were higher, with Brent crude buying about $US44.40 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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