RTTNews - Aided by strong buying in resources and energy stocks on the back of higher metal and oil prices, the Australian market surged higher on Wednesday. Industrials, healthcare, financials and consumer staples stocks are also trading firm.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is currently trading at 3,998, up 63 points over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up by 58.5 points at 3,992.

On Tuesday, the S&P/ASX200 had closed down 36.3 points at 3,934.9, while the All Ordinaries eased 35.4 points to 3,933.6.

Materials stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading higher by 2.8% and 3.3% respectively. Newcrest Mining is also trading firm with notable gains.

In the energy space, Origin Energy is up by over 2%, Woodside Petroleum is gaining 1.8% and Santos is trading 2.2% up.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are all trading higher.

In corporate news, Hutchison and Vodafone merged their subsidiaries, Hutchison 3G Australia Pty Ltd and Vodafone Australia, to create a joint venture called Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA), in which they have equal shares. The transaction gives Hutchison the right to convert all its convertible preference shares, which the company is doing now, Sydney-based Hutchison said in a statement on Wednesday.

Under the deal, Vodafone will receive a deferred payment of A$500 million from VHA by way of a shareholder loan from Vodafone to VHA, to equalize the value differences between the companies. The loan is expected to be repaid or refinanced within 18 months of the completion of the merger. The combined network will be the third-biggest in the country with revenue of about A$4 billion from six million customers and market share of about 27 per cent.

In other news, copper and zinc miner Kagara announced a capital raising of up to A$262 million, while a Chinese firm is set to take a 19.9 per cent stake in the company. Kagara said it intends to raise a minimum of A$150 million and a maximum of A$262 million through the issue of new shares to existing and new shareholders. If Kagara raises more than A$170 million in the offer, half of the extra funds must be used to retire bank debt.

In economic news, Westpac and the Melbourne Institute release their Survey of Consumer Expectations for June. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will issue housing finance data for April and St George Bank will publish research on the effect of the global financial crisis on Australia.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.8011 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and Korea are trading sharply higher, while the New Zealand market is up modestly. The stock markets across the region had finished Tuesday's session moderately lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down by 1.1 percent.

On Wall Street, the Dow ended flat after a choppy ride on Tuesday, losing 1.43 points to 8,763.06. The Nasdaq closed up 17.73 points at 1860.13 and the S&P 500 index edged up 3.29 points to 942.43.

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced that 10 of the largest U.S. financial institutions that borrowed money from the Treasury are planning on paying back their loans. President Barack Obama praised the move, noting that the government has turned a profit from the first round of repayments. He also offered cautious optimism that the financial system is stabilizing.

Major European markets closed mixed for the session. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index drifted lower by less than a tenth of a percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.1 percent, whereas the French CAC 40 Index finished up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil closed above US$70 per barrel on Tuesday for the first time this year as the Energy Information Administration boosted its short-term energy outlook. Light sweet crude for July delivery climbed to US$70.01 per barrel, up US$1.92 on the session, its best close since November 4. Crude touched as high as US$70.18, challenging the multi-month intraday high of US$70.32 reached last week.

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