RTTNews - Shrugging off weak cues from Wall Street where stock prices drifted lower overnight amid somewhat disappointing economic data, the Australian market opened higher on Thursday and moved further up in subsequent trades on strong buying in resources and bank stocks.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is currently trading higher by 48.2 points or 1.1% at 4,312.7. The broader All Ordinaries index is up by 44.1 points or 1% at 4,316.3.

On Wednesday, the S&P/ASX200 index had declined 44.8 points or 1.04% to 4,264.5, while the All Ordinaries index ended lower by 41.7 points or 0.97% at 4,272.2.

Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading higher by 1.3% and 1.7% respectively. Among other materials stocks, Bluescope Steel is up 4.3%, Fortescue Metals is trading 2.3% up and Incitec Pivot is gaining 2.2%. Lihir Gold, Newcrest Mining and Orica are trading weak.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are trading higher. Oil Search is down in negative territory with a modest loss.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank is up 1.7%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading higher by 1.4%, National Australia Bank is gaining 1.8% and Westpac Banking Corporation is moving up by over 2.3%. Diversified financial stock Macquarie Group is up by around 1.5%.

Media giant News Corporation posted a loss for the full year of US$3.4 billion, or A$4.03 billion, on writedowns and plunging advertising revenue, but says the worst of the economic downturn may have ended. News Corp said it expects operating income to increase by a high single-digit percentage rate in 2009/10, from adjusted operating income of US$3.44 billion, or A$4.08 billion, in 2008/09. The company also said it expects overall revenue to grow by four per cent in 2009/10, while advertising revenue would be flat. After a negative start, the media stock has recovered and is currently trading 0.6% up over its previous close.

Alumina Ltd's first half profit fell 86.3% and the company says it remains cautious about the outlook for aluminium demand. The company, a minority partner in Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals group, said its net profit for the six months ended June 30 was A$6 million, down from A$43.8 million in the previous corresponding half year. Despite the sharp fall in profit, the Alumina stock is trading higher by as much as 6.75% now.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release labour force data for July.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened flat amid mixed UK and U.S. economic data. In early trading today, the Aussie was quoting at US$0.8403/07, almost unchanged from Wednesday's close of US$0.8402/06. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8421 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other stock markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Singapore and Korea are trading modestly higher while the New Zealand market is down in the red.

Stock markets across the region had finished Wednesday's trading markedly lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended lower by 1.5% while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index declined 1.2%.

On Wall Street, disappointing data on the health of the service sector and the labor market generated some selling pressure and dragged the major averages down to a negative close on Wednesday.

The Dow closed down by 39.22 points or 0.4% at 9,280.97, the Nasdaq slipped by 18.26 points or 0.9% to 1,993.05 and the S&P 500 ended lower by 2.93 points or 0.3% at 1,002.72.

Major European markets closed lower on Wednesday, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both posting losses of 0.5%, while the German DAX index drifted down by 0.2%.

Crude oil prices turned modestly higher on Wednesday as optimism over an economic revival outweighed Energy Information Administration data showing another increase in weekly supplies. Light sweet crude crude oil rose to US$71.97 per barrel, up 55 cents on the session. Prices had earlier dipped as low as US$69.71.

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