The stock market in Australia ended higher on Wednesday, defying the weak cues on Wall Street and the other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, led by financials, and oil stocks.
On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5% at 7,660, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4% at 1,518 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2% at 806.
In Asian trading, crude oil declined about 1.3% in electronic trading, ahead of the release of the U.S. weekly petroleum inventories report. Light sweet crude oil for May delivery ended $0.18 higher on New York Mercantile Exchange at $53.98, after hitting an intra-day high of $54.20 and a low of $52.45.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 29.30 points, or 0.82% to close at 3,609, and the broader All Ordinaries Index moved up 0.82%, or 28.90 points, to end at 3,546. The market, having opened unchanged from its previous close, declined in early trading on profit taking. However, the index shrugged off the weakness and moved steadily higher for the rest of the session. Financials and oil stocks led the gains, more than offsetting the weakness among mining stocks.
Financials advanced on hopes that the plan unveiled by the U.S to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheet will help the global financial sector to stabilize sooner than expected. Australia and NZ Bank advanced 4.52%, National Australia Bank rose 3.63%, Westpac Bank added 2.97% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia increased 3.26%. However, investment bank Macquarie Group declined 4.68%.
In the resources sector, mining conglomerates ended on a mixed note after commodity prices declined in London Metals Exchange on Tuesday.
While BHP Billiton declined 1.51%, rival Rio Tinto gained 1.24% after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission stated that the proposed investment by Aluminum Corp. of China in Rio Tinto will not affect the iron ore, copper, bauxite and alumina markets. Resource company Alumina Ltd surged up 8.07%. Oz Minerals gained more than 7% following the news that the bankers might extend loans to the company even as the Regulators sought more time to review the takeover proposal from China Minimetals Group.
Gold miners ended mostly weak after gold closed lower for a third straight session overnight. Newcrest lost 2.54% and Lihir Gold declined 3.04%. However, Sino Gold advanced 2.16%.
Following the modest gain in crude oil price overnight, oil stock Woodside Petroleum gained 2.29%, Santos advanced 4.90% and Oil Search rose 2.76%.
Retail stocks ended mostly higher. While Wesfarmers gained 3.53%, Harvey Norman rose 1.56% and David Jones added 1.06%, Woolworths dropped 0.28%.
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