RTTNews - Shrugging off a negative start, the Australian stock market edged higher on Tuesday on the back of some strong buying in healthcare, financial and consumer staples stocks. Resources opened weak, but are edging higher now on support at lower levels.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is currently trading at 3,892.5, up 11.3 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is up 10.4 points at 3,979.4. The Australian market was closed yesterday for Queen's Birthday.

Key bank stocks ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australian Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are all trading firm with smart gains.

Materials stocks BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining are down sharply in the red, while Rio Tinto and Orica are trading firm with notable gains.

Uranio Limited has announced a proposed merger with Manhattan Resources under which Uranio will acquire the issued capital of Manhattan. The stock is down by over 8% this morning.

Origin Energy has narrowed its earnings guidance for 2008/09, after taking into account the progress of its majority-owned New Zealand power generator Contact Energy. The company expects its underlying profit to be less than 20 percent higher than last year. Origin had previously forecast an underlying profit for the full year between 20 per cent and 25 per cent higher than in 2007/08. The Origin Energy stock is currently trading down by 2.6%.

Among other stocks in the energy space, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are trading higher.

Australian property trust Mirvac Group has raised A$922 million in an institutional placement and said on Tuesday its A$178 million retail offer is now underwritten, a sign of strong support from investors. Shares of Mirvac Industrial Trust and Mirvac Real Estate Investment Trust shot up this morning and are currently trading firm with handsome gains.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7916 to the U.S. dollar.

In economic news, the National Australia Bank's Business Conditions and Business Confidence data will be released today.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand and Japan are trading lower. The South Korean market is up modestly.

On Wall Street, stocks finished Monday's session little changed despite some spirited buying in the final hour on hopes of a near-term economic recovery.

The Federal Reserve continued its treasury buyback program, completing the first of two quantitative easing moves for the week. The New York Fed purchased $7.50 billion worth of securities with maturity dates ranging from December of 2013 to April of 2016.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is ramping up the economic stimulus spending, pledging to create over 600,000 jobs this summer. Obama made the announcement Monday morning, stating that he will accelerate the implementation of the $787 billion stimulus in the next 100 days.

The Dow finished up by 1.36 points 8,764.49, while the Nasdaq dipped by 7.02 points to 1842.40, and the S&P 500 fell 0.95 points to 939.14.

In the Asia-Pacific region, markets had finished Monday's session on a mixed note. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index rose by 1.0 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed down by 2.3 percent.

Major European markets finished notably lower. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed down by 0.8 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil finished slightly lower amid profit-taking on Monday, but recovered most of its earlier losses. Light sweet crude for July delivery finished at US$68.09 per barrel, down 35 cents on the session. Earlier, oil fell as low as US$66.78 but later climbed as high as US$68.95.

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