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Local shares have ended Christmas Eve trade higher with the market closing earlier ahead of the Christmas and Boxing Day public holidays. The ASX 200 index finished the day at 6794.2, a gain of 9.1 points or 0.13%.

With only two full days and a half days trade on New Year’s Eve (closes at 2.10pm AEDT) remaining in the month, the index is poised for a second successive soft finish in December with a decline of 0.76% so far, after falling 0.37% in 2018. December has been a traditionally positive month with improvements in seven of the last 10 years.

Still, 2019 has been a successful year with the ASX 200 climbing roughly 20%, which is the best annual return this decade and since 2009, when the market rallied 30.8% after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). For a more in-depth review of the year and a preview of the year ahead, click here.

Today, the best performing sectors were health and energy. The price of oil firmed a touch and helped support local oil & gas producers. Beach Energy (BPT) was up 3% while Woodside (WPL) climbed 0.9%. CSL Ltd (CSL) was the major contributor to gains for health stocks, lifting 1.3% and remaining near its record highs.

Gold miners were another sub-sector to advance with the price of the precious metal lifting in overnight trade. Gold Road (GOR) jumped 7.6%, Resolute (RSG) rose 5.9% while Northern Star (NST) was 1.6% higher. NST also opened its Share Purchase Plan (SPP) offer as it looks to raise up to $50 million from retail investors to help fund a recent 50% stake in a WA gold mine.

Financials, tech and consumer names were among the major weights on the market today. Big names such as Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and the supermarket chains Woolworths (WOW) and Coles (COL) were the main drags.
Meanwhile, Corporate Travel (CTD) ended 0.1% higher after announcing a takeover of a US-based travel business for up to $53 million.

The Aussie dollar is buying 69.15 US cents and is down close to 2% in 2019. Today, 1.2b units were traded worth $2.2b with 536 stocks higher, 439 weaker and 351 unchanged. Tonight US markets will also have a shortened session and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index and initial jobless claims data are both due.

Published by CommSec