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Australia's S&P/ASX 200 breaks 5,000 points

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index surged above 5,000 points for the first time in almost three years Wednesday on bullish corporate earnings reports and consumer confidence data.

The index of Australia's top 200 companies closed 44.7 points, or 0.90 percent, higher at 5,003.7 -- a 34-month high.

The broader All Ordinaries ended the day up 43.0 points, or 0.86 percent, at 5,024.5 after that index hit the 5,000 mark on Tuesday.

The surge followed a strong earnings report from Australia's largest lender, Commonwealth Bank (CBA), which posted a one percent rise in first-half net profit to US$3.77 billion.

It was also buoyed by consumer sentiment jumping to its highest level in more than two years in February, indicating that central bank interest rate cuts were having their desired stimulatory effect.

"We had the backbone of a decent rally in place after solid earnings from CBA and ramification for margin improvement in the rest of the banks," said IG Markets analyst Chris Weston.

"But it seems there is a real positive feedback loop taking place between stocks prices and the real economy."

The CBA gained 2.43 percent to close at Aus$67.110.

Among the resource companies, BHP was 0.88 percent higher at Aus$37.920 and Rio Tinto, which reports its full-year results on Thursday, soared 2.07 percent to Aus$70.46.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130213/australias-spasx-200-breaks-5000-points