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Market report: Thursday, March 31

Markets

The Australian share market has opened strongly, with gains across the board, led by mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

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The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is up 1.3 per cent, mimicking gains in the US and the UK as investors cheered Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s dovish comments on the US economy and interest rate rise prospects.

IG head of research Chris Weston said the local market “got a fairly decent lead from Wall Street”, plus there was some position adjustment and portfolio management at the end of the month and the first quarter of 2016.

US banks performed well overnight, giving the local banking sector a lift after a tough few days, Weston said.

“Our banks have been heavily beaten up so I think we’re probably seeing a bit of short covering there as well,” he added.

Rio Tinto rose $1.07 to $43.03 and BHP Billiton gained 55 cents to $17.17.

The Commonwealth Bank was the biggest gainer among the nation’s four biggest banks, up 97 cents to $74.28.

Westpac gained 38 cents to $30.27, ANZ rose 30 cents to $23.41 and National Australia Bank rose 35 cents to $26.00.

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