The stock market in Australia ended higher on Tuesday, led by banks and resources, on growing optimism about a global economic recovery. Goldman Sachs' better-than-expected first quarter results, and its announcement of a plan to raise capital to repay half of the $10 billion bailout fund to the U.S. government lifted market sentiment despite a mixed closing by the U.S. markets.
The Dow closed down 25.57 points or 0.3% at 8,058, while the Nasdaq closed up 0.77 points or 0.1% at 1,653 and the S&P 500 closed up 2.17 points or 0.3% at 859.
In Asian trading, crude oil was down $0.26 at $49.79 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery dropped $2.19 to $50.05 a barrel on Monday after the International Energy Agency lowered its projection of global demand for this year. Demand worries also heated up amid concern over upcoming earnings reports.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 81.3 points, or 2.21% to 3,753, and the broader All Ordinaries index advanced 80.5 points, or 2.23% to 3,698. The market witnessed a broad based rally, with banks, miners, energy and retail stocks seeing strong buying interest.
On the economic front, the results of the latest survey of the National Australia Bank revealed that Business confidence in the country improved in March, with the index rising to minus 13 from minus 22 in February. A reading below zero indicates pessimists outnumbering optimists. The index of business confidence increased 3 points to minus 17, but remained at a low level not seen since 1992.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 2.70%, ANZ Banking Group advanced 4.21%, and National Australia Bank rose 2.84%. Westpac moved up 3.35%, and investment bank Macquarie Group soared 9.03%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton added 1.82%, Rio Tinto gained 5.34%, and Minara Resources surged 8.11%, on higher copper prices.
Gold miners ended mixed. While Lihir Gold remained unchanged, and New Crest Mining advanced 3.20%, Sino Gold declined 0.39%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside rose 1.63%, Oil Search edged up 0.75%, and Santos advanced 1.69%.
In the retail sector, David Jones gained 3.68%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers advanced 3.00%, while Woolworths fell 1.64%.
Qantas Airways staged a smart recovery in late trading and ended with a gain of 2.04%. Earlier in the day the stock declined as much as 8% after it slashed its full-year profit forecasts and flagged further 1,750 jobs cuts and capacity reduction amid rapidly deteriorating trading conditions.
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