Market Wrap:Aus shares close 0.5% higher

Market Reports

Australian investors were definitely getting into the holiday spirit today, with the local share market jumping at the open, continuing to stay in positive territory for the remainder of the session and subsequently closing 0.5 per cent higher. Most sectors finished the day in the black, but it was the big miners and the financials space which did most of the heavy lifting for the index. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 25 points higher to finish at 5,142. 
 
The value of trades was $3.6 billion on volume of 618 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 22 points up.

Company news

Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) has gone into a trading halt pending the release of an announcement by the company. The securities will remain in a trading halt state until the earlier of 29 December or when the company releases the announcement. Shares in Lithium Australia last traded at $0.16. 
 
BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) has provided an update to the market on the Samarco mine disaster in Brazil last month, confirming there have been 17 deaths and two people remaining unaccounted for.
 
Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS) has announced the start of production from the company’s Western Wet Gas joint venture with Santos in the Cooper Basin.
 
Lendlease Corporation Limited (ASX:LLC) has announced the introduction of a new international co-investor to the Barangaroo South precinct.
 
Watpac Limited (ASX:WTP) says it will deliver the $34.5 million expansion of the Frankston Private Hospital, which is a high quality cancer treatment hospital operated by Healthscope.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Materials adding 2.3 per cent to close at 6,852. The worst performing sector was Industrials, losing 0.82 per cent to close at 4,776 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Alumina, rising 7.66 per cent to close at $1.13. Shares in Monadelphous and Beach Energy also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Aurizon, dropping 11.74 per cent to close at $4.36. Shares in Slater and Gordon and Austal also closed lower. 
 
Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,074 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.66 higher at $US36.47 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7237.