New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York July 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SOCIETY)

 The local sharemarket has finished firmly in the black, following a strong lead from European and US markets. The S&P 500 enjoyed its best one day gain in a year, after the US Federal Reserve signalled it was on track to raise interest rates next year - reinforcing the strength of the US economy. That positive lead helped the All Ords finish up 1 percent to 5,189.

 The Energy sector was again the best performer, rallying 3.3 percent - adding to yesterday's 3 percent surge. Santos (STO) jumped 5.0 percent to $7.96, while Woodside Petroleum (WPL) rose by 3.1 percent to $36.60.

 Mining stocks also improved, extending yesterday's 0.9 percent gain to close up 2.0 percent. BHP Billiton (BHP) improved by 1.9 percent to $28.04, while Fortescue Metals (FMG) soared 6.4 percent to $2.50.

 Flight Centre (FLT) shares though plunged 9 percent to $31.87 after the firm issued a profit downgrade. FLT now expects FY profit before tax of between $360-390 million. Flight Centre had previously estimated profit would grow to between $395-405 million.

 Boral (BLD) finished up 1.8 percent to $5.11 - while CSR (CSR) firmed by 3.1 percent to $3.63 - after the two firms were given the go-ahead to set up a clay bricks joint venture. The ACCC says it doesn't believe the move will substantially lessen competition.

 Shares in Elders (ELD) - which held its AGM today - finished up 2.4 percent to 21.5 cents. The agribusiness says it's making progress in relation to its eight-point strategic plan, which was announced in July. Under the plan, Elders is hoping to achieve $60 million in earnings before interest and tax by fiscal 2017, and a 20 per cent return on capital.

 In economic news household wealth stood at a record $7,718.5 billion at the end of September, up $122.5 billion or 1.6 percent over the quarter. Australia's population grew by 68,400 people over the June quarter to 23,490,700. Annual population growth eased from 1.69 percent to 1.59 percent.

 The Aussie dollar has improved against the greenback, buying 81.3 US cents

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