A rising ASX tide lifts almost all boats

There aren't too many unhappy ASX investors after today's 1.4% gain

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It was hard to find an Australian investor without a smile on their face on Wednesday, with the S&P / ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) closing up 1.4% at 4347.7 points.

It wasn't a huge surprise given the performance of US markets overnight, Australian time – with nice gains on all US indices.

Company news was dominated by BHP Billiton's (ASX: BHP) output report, coming on the heels of Rio Tinto's (ASX: RIO) own results yesterday. BHP announced an 8% drop in production, but investors seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, with shares moving sharply higher.

Meanwhile, Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) announced the sale of 8 US shopping centres, in a move to lighten its stable of 'non-core' assets and improve its return on equity and earnings performance, and Telstra (ASX: TLS) has announced a 'ruthless' focus on cost containment, margin expansion and upselling its bundled services.

Yeah, I thought that was business as usual, too – but apparently Telstra felt the market needed to be reminded that management were clear on their objectives.

The mining news and Westfield's announcement helped the Materials and A-REIT sectors lead the market with gains of 2.4% and 2.3% respectively. All ASX sectors stayed out of the red, with the flat Telecomms sector and a 0.2% gain for Utilities dragging the chain.

Only 19 of the ASX 200 closed with losses today, with perennial yo-yo Lynas Corporation (ASX: LYC) leading the falls with a 1.7% share price fall. Other notable losses were felt by Senex Energy (ASX: SXY), down 1.4%, Spark Infrastructure (ASX: SKI), off 1.0% and Spotless Group (ASX: SPT) which fell 0.8% rounding out a trio of Ss losing money on the day.

There was a lot to like for most other ASX 200 investors, with over one-third of the index constituents gaining by 2% or more. ERA (ASX: ERA) felt the warm glow of two broker upgrades, and investors enjoyed a 10.7% gain as a result. Three other companies – Linc Energy (ASX: LNC), Panoramic Resources (ASX: PAN) and Dart Energy (ASX: DTE) saw gains of 7% of more.

The Australian dollar couldn't quite muster the same enthusiasm, trading just the wrong side of even just after the market close.

The aphorism 'a rising tide lifts all boats' may not have been strictly true today, but 90% of the ASX 200 saw a lift, and most investors will end today with more in their pockets than they started with.

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Scott Phillips is an investment analyst with The Motley Fool. Scott owns shares in Telstra and Westfield Group. You can follow him on Twitter @TMFGillaTake Stock is The Motley Fool's free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it's still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).

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