Information technology and telecommunications stocks are trading with marginal gains while healthcare, materials and industrials are exhibiting weakness. Energy and financials stocks are trading mixed. Not much buying is happening in consumer discretionary and consumer staples stocks.
The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which declined to 3,755 in early trading, is currently up 1.8 points at 3,782. The All Ordinaries index is up 1.6 points at 3,746.
Among materials, BHP Billiton is trading 1.4% down and Rio Tinto is down 1.7%. However, Orica is trading in positive zone with a 0.3% gain.
In the banking sector, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down 0.7%. ANZ Bank is trading nearly a per cent down and National Australia Bank is down marginally from its previous close. Media stock Newscrop is trading 2.3% down.
In currency market, the Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.7285 to the U.S. dollar.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the New Zealand stock market opened slightly higher on Friday, holding on to the positive momentum attained in the previous session after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand slashed interest rates.
The marginally higher opening came despite a mixed overnight lead from the Wall Street, where U.S. stocks moved modestly lower after word that Number 3 American car maker Chrysler would file for bankruptcy, and reorganize with Italy's Fiat.
The Japanese benchmark index Nikkei 225 is up about 100 points with a weaker Yen offseting some weak economic data.
Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had showed strong upward moves on Thursday, with the strength seen on Wall Street overnight generating some buying interest. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index moved sharply higher, closing up 3.9 percent. Upbeat report from the U.S. central bank and a sharp rise in Japanese industrial output hinted that the global economic slowdown might be bottoming out.
The major European markets also ended the day considerably higher, with the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closing up 1.3 percent on the day, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both advanced 1.4 percent.
Wall Street reacted positively on Thursday morning to the latest batch of earnings and economic news but shed most of its gains as participants resorted to some heavy selling in energy and financials stocks.
The market moved lower over the course of the day as traders reacted to news that auto giant Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
President Barack Obama revealed that Chrysler would file for bankruptcy in remarks at the White House earlier in the day, adding that the company has reached an agreement to form a partnership with Italian automaker Fiat.
Obama said that he expects Chrysler's bankruptcy to be quick and minimally disruptive and said he believes the company will emerge from the process stronger and more competitive. Although Chrysler was a pillar of the U.S. auto industry for decades, its inability to move fast enough to adapt to the changing market marked the beginning of its demise.
We simply cannot keep this company or any company afloat on an endless supply of tax dollars, Obama said.
He noted that the government would provide nearly $3.5 billion to keep the company somewhat functioning while the filing takes place and an additional $4.7 billion once Fiat takes over.
According to a release from the Labor Department, initial jobless claims fell to 631,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 645,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to come in unchanged compared to the 640,000 originally reported for the previous week.
However, the report also showed a continued increase in continuing claims, which rose to another new record high of 6.271 million in the week ended April 18th. The continued increase suggests that people are having trouble finding jobs after they are laid off.
In earnings news, shares of Dow Chemical moved sharply higher after the chemical giant reported first quarter earnings that showed a steep decline year-over-year but came in well above analyst estimates.
On the other hand, shares of Exxon Mobil saw some weakness after the oil giant reported first quarter earnings that fell to $0.92 per share from $2.02 per share in the year-ago quarter and came in below analyst estimates of $0.95 per share.
The major averages finished the day mixed, with the Nasdaq posting a modest gain. While the Nasdaq closed up 5.36 points or 0.3 percent at 1,717.30, the Dow closed down 17.61 points or 0.2 percent at 8,168.12 and the S&P 500 closed down 0.83 points or 0.1 percent at 872.81.
The Dow closed 17.61 points or 0.2 per cent down and the Nasdaq ended up 5.36 points or 0.3% on Thursday. The S&P 500 closed down 0.83 points or 0.1 per cent.
Crude oil closed a choppy session modestly lower on Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid continuing demand concerns as traders considered a full slate of economic and corporate reports.
Light sweet crude oil for June delivery ended the day at $50.56, down 41 cents on the session. Prices fell as low as $50.21 earlier in the session after earlier hitting as high as $51.94
The manufacturing industry is likely to be in focus on Friday, with the Institute for Supply Management due to release its report on manufacturing activity in the month of April and the Commerce Department due to release its report on March factory orders.
Chevron, Clorox and MasterCard are among the firms due to due to report before the bell on Friday.
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