AUSTRALIAN shares have closed slightly higher, driven by gains in the telecommunications and financial sectors.
The benchmark ASX 200 index was up 11 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 4297 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 9 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 4351.9 points.
The rise was driven by monetary easing in China, but the gains were held back by losses in the resources sector, IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said.
China’s central bank reduced its reserve required ratio over the weekend – freeing up cash to lend – to stimulate the economy after disappointing import and export economic data last week.
“There was a lift in risk assets early on, particularly in the resource space, but unfortunately through the day the uncertainty coming from Greece weighed on most of the risk assets,” Mr Shamu said.
New elections may have to be called in Greece, which could mean further delays to the country’s promised structural reforms.
High-dividend paying telco and banking stocks performed well on the market.
Telstra posted a 4c, or 1.11 per cent, gain to close at $3.64.
Commonwealth Bank was the best performer of the big banks, up $1, or 1.9 per cent, to $52.40, ANZ was 16c higher at $22.20, National Australia Bank was 25c higher at $24.80.
Westpac was 65c lower at $22.07 after it went ex-dividend. The bank will today lower its one and three-year fixed rates to their lowest level in three years in a bid to lock in customers ahead of an expected further fall in interest rates.
The mining giants were mixed yesterday but the overall sector was down.
BHP Billiton was 9c stronger at $34.46, Rio Tinto was 7c weaker at $61 and Fortescue Metals was down 5c to $5.34.
Australia’s largest gold miner Newcrest Mining lost 10c to $25.65 while oil and gas major Santos gave up 17c, or 1.32 per cent, to $12.69.