RTTNews - After a flat start, the Australian market is moving up on Thursday on the back of some strong buying in financial, telecommunication, industrial and healthcare stocks. The overnight negative close on Wall Street has not hurt sentiment any significantly this morning.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which opened at 4,142.4, is currently trading at 4,169.1, up 26.3 points or 0.6% over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up by 24.8 points or 0.6% at 4,173.7.

Snapping a winning run that lasted 11 sessions, the Australian market ended in the red on Wednesday with the S&P/ASX 200 and the All Ordinaries closing lower by 26.7 points and 25.1 points at 4,142.8 and 4,148.9 respectively.

Among bank majors, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are up by 1.4%-2% while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading with a modest gain. Macquarie Group is up by 0.65%.

Materials stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading weak. Orica, Onesteel and Newcrest are also not finding any great support this morning. However, Fortescue Metals and Bluescope Steel are trading higher by 2.7% and 3.3% respectively.

In the energy space, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are trading weak, while Origin Energy is trading modestly higher.

Foster's Group Ltd has set up a US$500 million three-year syndicated loan facility involving Asia region banks. The facility includes a fully drawn tranche and revolving facilities denominated in Australian and United States dollars. The initial facility was for a total of US$300 million, but was increased to $US500 million after it was more than two times oversubscribed by the Asian banks. Shares of the food beverage and tobacco major are currently trading nearly a percent up.

Elders Rural Bank Ltd, a joint venture between Elders Limited and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited, posted a 10% rise in annual profit and said retail deposits remain strong. Net profit for the year ended June 30 was A$45.1 million, up from A$41.1 million in the previous financial year. Loans under management at June 30 totaled A$3.679 billion, up slightly from A$3.650 billion a year ago. The bank's total deposits, at A$3.753 billion, were also higher than the prior year. The company's stock is moving up by over 8%.

Lihir Gold has achieved record production of 612,000 ounces in the first half of 2009, and the company says it remains on track to meet earlier full-year production guidance. The company attributed the strong results to a record production at Lihir Island in PNG, increased output at Mt Rawdon in Queensland, and a full six month contribution from the Bonikro operation in West Africa. The stock is up nearly 2% now.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release building approvals data for June.

The Australian dollar opened lower on Thursday with the sharp debacle in the Chinese market on Wednesday influencing investors. The Aussie was quoting at US$0.8176/79, down from Wednesday's close of US$0.8188/91. The Aussie is currently trading at 0.8174 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is trading marginally up, while Singapore, New Zealand and Korea are down in the red with modest losses. Stock markets across the region had finished largely on the downside on Wednesday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slid by 2.4%, although Japan's benchmark Nikkei index bucked the downtrend and closed up by 0.3%.

On Wall Street, stocks bounced around in negative territory throughout Wednesday's session in reaction to the day's slew of earnings and economic reports. On the economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing that orders for transportation equipment declined sharply in June, contributing to a substantial decline in orders for manufactured durable goods.

Notwithstanding a late attempt at rebounding into positive territory, the Dow ended down 26 points or 0.3% at 9,070.72 and the Nasdaq closed lower by 7.75 points or 0.4% at 1,967.76. The S&P 500 declined by 4.47 points or 0.5% to 975.15.

Major European markets closed notably higher, with the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finishing up by 1.9% and 1% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.4%.

Crude oil dropped sharply on Wednesday after Energy Information Administration data revealed a sharp rise in weekly inventories. Oil closed at a 12-day low after reaching a three-week high earlier in the week.

Light sweet crude for September delivery dropped to US$62.85 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, down US$4.38 on the session. Prices dipped as low as US$62.70 earlier in the session after coming within a penny of US$69 on Tuesday.

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