RTTNews - The Australian stock market edged higher on Friday, with a positive close on Wall Street and higher commodity prices triggering some buying interest in early trading.

Almost all the sectoral indices are up with modest gains, though front line stocks are seen exhibiting a mixed trend. The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is up 25 points at 3,788.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 3,785.4, up 24 points over its previous close.

On Thursday, the Australian market had ended in negative territory after trading in a wide range amid thin volumes. A smaller-than-expected increase in the unemployment rate helped trim some of the losses even as traders preferred to stay on the sidelines amid concerns about the global economy. While the S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 3,763 with a loss of 4.6 points, the All Ordinaries index ended at 3,761, down 4.6 points on Wednesday's close.

Among materials stocks, BHP Billiton is currently up by 1.2%, Rio Tinto is gaining 1.6%, Newcrest Mining is trading higher by 1.3% and Orica is up 1%. Fortescue Metals and Lihir Gold are also trading firm. However, Bluescope Steel is trading flat.

In the energy space, Santos is up by 1.2% and Origin Energy is up 1.1%, but Woodside Petroleum is trading in the red with a modest loss.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading modestly lower, while National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are in positive territory with modest gains.

Packager Amcor Ltd says it is continuing discussions with Rio Tinto Ltd about the partial acquisition of Rio's Alcan packaging business. Responding to a query from the Australian Securities Exchange about a rise in its share price this week, Amcor said its negotiations with Rio Tinto were continuing.

Amcor's share price rose from a closing A$4.67 on July 3 to a high of A$5.21 during trade on Thursday. This morning, the stock is down by nearly a per cent at A$5.12.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened flat this morning after a subdued offshore session. In early trading, the Aussie was quoted at US$0.7826/31, up marginally from Thursday's close of US$0.7820/26. The currency is currently trading at 0.7830 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and New Zealand are trading modestly higher, while Korea is down marginally. Stock markets across the region had ended Thursday's session on a mixed note. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 closed down by 1.4%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose by 0.4%.

On Wall Street, stocks moved in a choppy fashion on Thursday and ended with modest gains on the back of some encouraging employment data. A report from the Labor Department showed that jobless claims fell to 565,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 617,000. Economists had been expecting a more modest decrease to 603,000 from the 614,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Traders largely shrugged off May wholesale trade data from the Commerce Department, which showed that wholesale inventories fell by less than economists had been expecting. The report also showed a modest increase in wholesale sales.

The Dow ended up by 4.76 points or 0.1% at 8,183.17, the Nasdaq rose by 5.38 points or 0.3% to 1,752.55 and the S&P 500 finished up by 3.12 points or 0.4% at 882.68.

Major European markets all closed on the upside, with the German DAX Index closing up by 1.3%, while the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both rose by 0.5%.

Oil finished mildly higher amid choppy trading on Thursday as the weekly employment report sparked hopes the economy could improve. Light sweet crude for August climbed to US$60.41 per barrel, up 27 cents on the session. Earlier, oil touched a multi-month low of US$59.25.

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