RTTNews - The Australian market opened on a firm note Friday as the overnight surge on Wall Street on the back of a series of encouraging economic data brought back some confidence about the economy. With the mood fairly bullish, stocks across various sectors are surging higher in early trading.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which rose to 3,935 this morning following a buoyant start, has drifted down a bit subsequently, but is trading firm at 3919, up 27 points over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 26 points at 3,913.

The Australian market ended in negative territory for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday, dragged down by resource stocks on lower commodity prices. The All Ordinaries Index had closed 16.8 points down at 3,887, while the S&P/ASX 200 slipped by 12 points to 3,892.

In Friday's trading. materials stocks BHP Billiton, Newcrest Mining, Orica, Lihir Gold, Fortescue Metals and Bluescope Steel are all trading higher. However, Rio Tinto is down in the red with a sharp loss.

Bank stocks ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are up sharply. Capital goods stock Leighton Holdings and diversified financials stock Macquarie Group are also up with notable gains.

WorleyParsons Limited announced that it has signed a contract with the Egyptian Nuclear Power Plant Authority for a consultancy services contract to support the delivery of the first Egyptian nuclear power plant. The revenue to WorleyParsons is expected to be approximately US$160 million over the expected 8 years of the project. The energy stock is up by over 6% this morning. Woodside Petroleum and Santos are among the other energy stocks to have moved up today.

In another news, Trafford Resources intends to raise up to A$2 million to exercise 3,600,000 share options in Robust Resources Limited at 30 cents each, and to advance its Telephone Dam uranium discovery at Wilcherry Hill, South Australia. The company plans to raise funds by way of placement to sophisticated investors at a price of 15 cents per share. The Trafford Resources stock is trading nearly 2% down at present.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher after some positive U.S. economic data raised risk appetite and pushed the currency up towards US$0.8000. Earlier in the day, the Australian dollar was trading at in a range of US$0.7986/91, up from Thursday's close of US$ 0.7966/69. Currently, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.8014 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Singapore and Korea are trading with sharp gains. The New Zealand market is trading modestly higher.

Stock markets across the Asia Pacific region had ended Thursday's trading notably lower. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down 0.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down 1.7 percent.

Aided by a series of encouraging economic reports, Wall Street rebounded after some early weakness and closed higher on Thursday with investors hoping for a somewhat swift end to the recession.

A report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed that the pace of contraction in the mid-Atlantic region's manufacturing slowed by much more than economists had been anticipating.

Also, a report from the Conference Board showed that its leading indicators index rose 1.2 percent in May, more than what economists had expected. Additionally, according to the Labor Department, weekly jobless showed the first drop in continuing claims since the week ended January 3rd.

The Dow closed up 58.42 points at 8,555.60 and the S&P 500 closed up 7.66 points at 918.37. The Nasdaq, which had outperformed in the previous session, was the underperformer throughout Friday's session. It ended down 0.34 points at 1,807.72.

Major European markets finished the day on the upside. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index closed up by 1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched higher, finishing just above the unchanged mark.

Crude oil moved slightly higher on Thursday as some encouraging economic data boosted hopes of a speedier economic recovery. Light sweet crude settled at US$71.37, up 34 cents on the session. Prices traded as high as US$71.75 and as low as US$70.22 in a choppy session.

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