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Shares surged towards record levels as bond proxies added weight to an on-going rally in resource stocks.

The ASX 200 was ahead 42 points or 0.6 per cent at 6830 mid-session after earlier hitting 6834, the index’s highest level since late July. At its morning peak, the index lay just 11 points or less than 0.2 per cent from its July all-time high.

Telstra rose 3.2 per cent to its strongest point in almost three months after NBN Co announced it will offer wholesalers more bandwidth and speed at no additional expense. Telstra’s net profit hit a post-privatisation low last financial year as earnings were hit by the rollout of the national broadband network.

Utilities outperformed as APA put on 1.7 per cent, AGL Energy 1.5 per cent and Spark Infrastructure 0.9 per cent. Gold stocks rose after the precious metal found support last night. Silver Lake Resource gained 4.5 per cent, Gold Road 5.4 per cent and  Resolute 5 per cent.

Bravura Solutions was the index’s best performer, rising 13.1 per cent following a broker upgrade from Goldman Sachs. Franchisor Collins Foods, which operates KFC and Sizzler outlets, gained 6.7 per cent after lifting half-year revenue 9.2 per cent to $448.8 million.

Iron ore miners continued to rally despite a blip in the ore price yesterday. Ore dropped 1.9 per cent, breaking a ten-session run of increases. BHP shrugged off the decline with a 0.7 per cent rise to a ten-week high. Rio Tinto advanced 0.9 per cent.

A mixed morning for the banks saw CBA up 1 per cent to a near-two month peak, while Westpac slumped 0.7 per cent.

What’s hot today and what’s not:

Hot today: a cure for cancer remains the holy grail for patients and for dozens of  biotechs trialling treatments around the globe. Two Australian contenders enjoyed price bumps this morning after announcing progress in clinical trials. Shares in Prescient Therapeutics briefly doubled in value after the company announced three patients out of 15 with acute myeloid leukemia in a trial of the company’s drug saw complete eradication of their cancer. Invion’s share price tripled on news its ovarian cancer treatment reduced tumours in mice to less than half their original size in three weeks. Shares in Prescient were last up 46.7 per cent at 11 cents. Invion was up 125 per cent at 1.8 cents.

Not today: a difficult  morning for long-term investors in Alexium, who saw their holdings lose more than a quarter of their value after the flame-retardant clothing company tapped shareholders to retire debt and fund growth. The company raised $22.3 million at an eye-watering 43 per cent discount to the last trading price before shares went into a halt. Shares were lately trading at 6.8 cents, a 35.2 per cent fall from the pre-raise price of 10.5 cents. Retail shareholders have a chance to average down by taking up an entitlement offer at six cents.

China’s Shanghai Composite shed 0.3 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.1 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.4 per cent. S&P 500 index futures were recently upp less than a point or 0.1 per cent.

Turning to commodity markets, Brent crude futures eased 19 cents or 0.3 per cent this morning to $US64.08 a barrel. Gold slipped 60 cents or 0.1 per cent to $US1,459.90 an ounce.

On currency markets, the dollar was steady at 67.87 US cents.

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