RTTNews - Tracking the overnight surge on Wall Street where stocks had moved up on hopes of an economic recovery following better-than-expected retail sales and jobless claims data, the Australian market opened on a firm note Friday with stocks across various sectors gaining ground in early trading.

However, with traders turning cautious and choosing to take some profits after recent strong gains, several front line stocks had drifted lower, dragging the key indices down into the red.

The Australian benchmark S&P/ASX 200, which moved on to 4071 earlier this morning but subsequently slipped to 4038, is currently trading at 4054, up 7 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is also trading 7 points higher at 4054.

On Thursday, the Australian market had closed at a fresh 2009 high, led by miners and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed at 4,047, up 23 points or 0.57% and the broader All Ordinaries index rose 31 points or 0.8% to 4,047.

Energy, materials and healthcare stocks are mostly off their highs now. Industrials and financials are trading mixed, while utilities, consumer staples and consumer discretionary stocks are mostly trading weak.

OZ Minerals is up by over 15% on frenzied buying at the counter. On Thursday, OZ Minerals shareholders had voted overwhelmingly in favor of the sale of most of the miner's assets to China Minmetals Non-Ferrous Metals Co ., or Minmetals, for US$1.386 billion. Minmetals late on Wednesday had increased its offer for the assets by 15 per cent to US$1.38 billion from US$1.2 billion.

Poseidon Nickel has agreed to sell its Western Australian gold rights to Triton Gold Limited, which is aiming to float on the stock exchange. According to a release from the company, Poseidon shareholders will be given a priority offer in the initial public offer as part of the deal.

Poseidon Nickel will transfer the Gold rights to Triton for a consideration of A$0.30 million, on successful completion of IPO and listing of Triton Gold. The materials stock is currently trading in the red with a loss of 1.6%.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.8173 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Korea and Japan are trading firm, while the New Zealand market is currently trading flat.

Aided by better-than-expected retails sales and jobless claims data, Wall Street ended Thursday's session with modest gains. The Dow closed up 31.90 points or 0.4 percent at 8,770.92, the Nasdaq closed up 9.29 points or 0.5 percent at 1,862.37 and the S&P 500 closed up 5.74 points or 0.6 percent at 944.89.

Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had ended largely unchanged on Thursday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed up by less than a tenth of a percent.

Major European markets all closed higher following some early uncertainty. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 and the French CAC 40 Index both rose 0.6 percent, while German DAX Index closed up 1.1 percent.

Crude oil added to its best close since October as the International Energy Agency raised its demand expectations for the year.

Light sweet crude oil for July delivery settled at US$72.68 per barrel, up US$1.35 for the day, extending its highest close since October. Earlier in the day, oil reached as high as US$73.23.

With key reports like the Reuters/University of Michigan's initial reading on consumer sentiment for the month of June and the Labor Department's note on import and export prices for the month of May to be released later on in the day, the mood is likely to be somewhat cautious today.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com