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Banking, mining gains push market higher

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The Australian share market has closed higher because of gains in the banking and resources sectors. The All Ordinaries Index was up 86 points to 6,593 and the ASX 200 added 88 points to 6,533.

Higher oil and metals prices have buoyed mining stocks.

Woodside Petroleum surged by $1 to $48.49.

Higher commodity prices have helped Rio Tinto pick up $5.94, while BHP Billiton is up 98 cents to $42.98.

At 5:30pm AEDT, a barrel of West Texas crude oil cost $US90.98 and spot gold was worth $US797 per ounce.

In the banking sector, predictions of a further interest rate cut in the United States have lifted domestic banking stocks.

The Commonwealth Bank has gained 2.3 per cent.

The National Australia Bank has shed 2 per cent after its stock was downgraded following its purchase of US bank, Great Western.

Australia's second biggest hospital owner, Primary Health Care, says it will make its $2.7 billion offer for Symbion Health unconditional if it has secured majority control by early December.

Earlier this week, its rival Healthscope dropped out of the race after an unfavourable ruling by the Australian Tax Office.

A reduction in the amount of money going offshore has contributed to a fall in Australia's current account deficit.

Official figures show the current account deficit fell by $33 million to a seasonally adjusted $15.59 billion in the September quarter.

At 5:30pm AEDT, the Australian dollar was buying 88.5 US cents, 97 Japanese yen, 59 euro cents and 42 British pence. © 2007 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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