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Local market disregards softer overnight lead to post new highs

The Australian share market ignored the softer lead from the US market overnight to trade above the record 7900 level.

Approaching midday the S&P/ASX 200 was trading 7 points higher at 7903 above the 7900 record level touched last week.

Gold, oil and materials stocks were the key drivers pushing the market to new highs. Oil rallied overnight after news of an Israeli missile attack on the Iranian Consulate in Damascus raising concerns of a widening conflict in the Middle East.

The price of iron ore also bounced back above US$100 per tonne during overnight trading, after collapsing almost 5 per cent during regional Easter Monday trading. BHP & RIO were both trading more than 1 per cent higher.

The gold sector was one of the stand out performers in morning trading with producers Northern Star & Evolution both up more than 2.5 per cent as the gold price hit new highs trading close to $US2268 per ounce.

In other stock news Austal was trading almost 11 per cent higher after it confirmed it had received a takeover offer from South Korean shipbuilder Hanwha Ocean at $2.825 cash per Austal share. Uranium miner Paladin Energy was trading almost 4 per cent higher after it announced it has produced its first load of uranium from its Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Energy, up 1.1 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Communication Services, down 0.86 per cent.

The best-performing large cap is Newmont Corporation (ASX:NEM), trading 4.75 per cent higher at $56.26. It is followed by shares in Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST).

The worst-performing large cap is Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL), trading 5.92 per cent lower at $19.87. It is followed by shares in ResMed (ASX:RMD) and Ramsay Health Care (ASX:RHC).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$2268.80 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.3 per cent lower at US$102.50 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 3.89 per cent rise.
One Australian dollar is buying 64.88 US cents.