AUSTRALIAN MARKET CLOSES UP 15% FOR THE YEAR

The Australian market has matched off its final trades of 2013, closing the year up a total of 15%.

Shares fell slightly on low volumes today, with the All Ordinaries index down 4.9 points to 5353 and the ASX 200 down 4.6 points to 5352.2.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver credited the Santa rally for helping to deliver the best annual return since 2009, despite a bad start to December.

After dividends, the ASX 200 returned about 20% or 21.5% with franking credits added in, he said.

The falling Australian dollar also played a part in lifting Australia’s share market. The AUD is currently worth $US0.8922, down more than 14% from about $US1.04 this time last year.

“In USD-benchmarked terms, the ASX 200 finished 2013 +0.89%,” Arab Bank treasury dealer David Scutt noted today. “With one session left, the S&P 500 is currently +29.19%.”

The year’s top performing stocks were law firm Slater & Gordon (up 128% to $4.84), online property listing business REA Group (up 109% to $37.76) and Kathmandu (up 104% to $3.23).

Gold miners Silver Lake Resources and Newcrest were the worst hit, down 84% to $0.535 and 64% to $7.80 respectively. Engineering and construction firm Forge Group is also down 64% for the year, closing the day at $1.74, but its stock was on the rise this week since news broke of a new $830 million Roy Hill contract.

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