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Gold miners lead as ASX reaches new high

The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has jumped to a fresh five-year high today after weeks of volatility caused by the US government shutdown and the pending risk of the nation defaulting.

Also acting as a driving force behind the market’s rally is China’s GDP data, which will be released later this afternoon. Whilst this data will give investors the opportunity to assess how Asia’s largest economy is travelling, a number of economists are expecting a 7.8% increase for the most recent quarter, as compared to a 7.5% growth figure from the second quarter.

The benchmark index jumped as high as 5,321 points in early afternoon trading, surpassing its previous five-year high of 5,314.3, recorded in late-September. Gold miners were the strongest for the day after spot gold rose 3% in value overnight. Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM) leapt 5.7% and St Barbara soared 6.5%, taking its value to 49c per share. Similarly, Kingsgate Consolidated (ASX: KCN) also realised a gain of 6.2%.

The financial sector has also pushed hard today with renewed focus prior to the release of three of the major bank’s earnings reports. Of the big four, Westpac (ASX: WBC) and NAB (ASX: NAB) were the strongest, each realizing gains of 0.9% whilst ANZ (ASX: ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) gained 0.8% and 0.7%, respectively. Macquarie Group (ASX: MQG) was up 1.9% in early afternoon trading.

Foolish takeaway

Although the market is sitting at a five-year high, there are still plenty of companies that are trading at attractive prices and present as excellent long-term prospects. In fact, two of Australia’s most promising small companies are still flying under the radar. Discover these two exciting ASX investments in our brand-new special FREE report, “2 Small Cap Superstars”. Click here now, it’s free!

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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