Australian shares, led by the major banks, rallied today on the back of positive leads from the U.S. market, with the All Ords closing up 49.5 points, or 1%, to 4,993.60.
The benchmark S&P ASX 200 broke through the 5,000 point barrier, rising 53.8 points, or 1.1%.
Stocks on Wall Street rallied overnight following a bounce in the gold price and as some better-than-expected data and corporate earnings.
U.S. data showed the consumer price index for March declined 0.2%, compared to consensus expectations for flat growth and a 0.7% jump in February, which should allow the Fed to continue its ultra-easing policies.
More importantly, U.S housing starts rose 7% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.04 million -- the highest level since June 2008 -- according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Banks lead the way
Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) put on $1.15, or 1.69%, to $69.29 while National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) gained $0.41, or 1.29%, to $32.24. ANZ Bank (ASX: ANZ) was up $0.23, or 0.8%, to $29.09 while Westpac Bank (ASX: WBC) was up $0.32, or 1.02%, to $31.82.
Telstra (ASX: TLS) was also amongst the leaders, gaining $0.13, or 2.77%, to $4.82 while traditional defensive stocks Wesfarmers (ASX: WES) and Woolworths (ASX: WOW) were up $1.21, or 2.97%, to $41.89 and $0.84, or 2.42%, to $35.60 respectively.
Retailers also enjoyed a field day with Myer (ASX:MYR) up $0.05, or 1.68%, to $3.03, rival David Jones (ASX: DJS) gaining $0.01, or 0.35%, to $2.90 while JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH) was up $0.46, or 3.17%, to $14.98.
Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN) jumped $0.10, or 3.77%, to $2.75, after it posted its first positive sales growth in 18 months for the March quarter.
Resources still in slump
However, investors shied away from risk assets sending resource stocks down further.
Despite increasing iron ore production by 6% to 44.4 million tonnes in the March quarter and maintaining its production guidance for 2012/13 of 183 million tonnes, BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) slipped $0.09, or 0.28%, to close at $32.06.
Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) shed $0.39, or 0.71%, to $54.59 while Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) was down $0.03, or 0.8%, to $3.72.
Higher spot gold prices, which up 1% to US$1,381.80 an ounce were a boon for Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM), which closed up $0.10, or 0.59%, to $17.10.
An overnight drop in oil prices took its toll on oil and gas players with Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) down $0.30, or 0.85%, to $35.08.
Santos (ASX: STO) slipped $0.06, or 0.5%, to $12.07 while Oil Search (ASX: OSH) closed down $0.03, or 0.41%, to $7.22.
Turning to junior companies, a number of stand outs made gains on the market today.
Calzada (ASX: CZD) was up 21.82% to $0.067 after its NovoSorb™ wound dressing has successfully met the safety and efficacy objectives in a recent human clinical trial.
It also demonstrated advantages over the current gold standard dressing, GranuFoam™, such as reduced dressing fragmentation, reduced risk of infection, reduced trauma on dressing removal, and reduced undesirable dressing retention in the wound.
Calzada plans to file for 510(k) regulatory clearance in the U.S. in the September quarter of 2013, with commercial launch slated for the March quarter of 2014.
Ceramic Fuel Cells (ASX: CFU) was up 10.53%, to $0.063, after receiving a binding order for 60 integrated micro combined heat and power (mCHP) units from German energy service provider EWE.
These new units offer enhanced overall control and thermal efficiency and will be offered alongside the already well established BlueGEN generators, allowing the company to target the sizeable and resilient residential demand for heating and heating-replacement units.
Firm American corporate earnings also sent most Asian stocks up with the Nikkei up 1.22% to 13,382.89 points, the Hang Seng up 0.36% to 21,750.71 points though the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index slipped 0.12% to 2,191.97 points.
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