RTTNews - Despite mixed cues from Wall Street Friday, the Australian stock market opened on a positive note Monday, with investors picking up financial, technology, property and consumer discretionary stocks amid growing optimism about the economy. A positive update from ANZ Banking Group is contributing significantly to the buoyant mood in the Australian market this morning.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which rallied to 4,537.2, is currently up by 29.8 points, 0.7%, at 4,519.4. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,526.4, up 30.5 points, or 0.7%, over its previous close.

The Australian market had ended at a 10-month high last Friday with the S&P/ASX 200 and the All Ordinaries indices closing up by 39 points, or, 0.87% at 4,490 and 37.8 points, or 0.85%, at 4,496 respectively.

ANZ Banking Group Ltd says its cash profit for the 10 months to July is tracking broadly in line with the prior year, as the bank's bad debt growth slowed in the third quarter. The bank's strong revenue trends had continued, driven largely by the performance of the institutional division, Melbourne-based ANZ said in a statement today. The bank stock is currently trading up by over 4%.

Among other key bank stocks, National Australia Bank is up by 2.8%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is gaining about 1.5% and Westpac is trading higher by nearly 2%. Diversified financial stock Macquarie Group is up by as much as 4.4%.

Among miners, BHP Billiton is trading lower, while Rio Tinto is up with a modest gain of 0.6%. Newcrest Mining is up by nearly 3%. Bluescope Steel, Fortescue Metals and Orica are also trading in positive territory.

In the energy space, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are exhibiting weakness while Origin Energy and Santos are trading in positive territory with modest gains.

Paper merchant PaperlinX Ltd reported a A$798.2 million annual loss and decided against paying a final dividend after being hit by deteriorating global paper demand. The result compares to a profit of A$72.2 million in 2007/08. Despite weak results, the stock is up by over 8% this morning.

Felix Resources Ltd has reported a 42% rise in annual net profit and says it is in good shape for the current financial year. The Brisbane-based coal miner and explorer said net profit for the 12 months to June 30 was A$267.6 million, up from A$188.5 million in the previous corresponding period. Felix said attributable sales tonnage was up 3% on the previous year.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher today amid mixed reaction from investors to positive US consumer confidence data. In early trading this morning, the Aussie was quoting at US$0.8415/17, up slightly from Friday's close of US$0.8406/08. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8420 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is trading sharply higher. New Zealand and Taiwan are up with modest gains, while Singapore and Korea are exhibiting some weakness. Stock markets across the region had closed mostly higher on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance on Friday after an initial upward move and eventually ended the session on a mixed note. Traders largely shrugged off the day's economic data, including a report from Reuters and the University of Michigan that showed their final consumer sentiment index reading for August came in at 65.7 compared to the mid-month reading of 63.2.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said that personal income was nearly unchanged in July following a revised decrease of 1.1% in June. Economists had expected income to increase by 0.1% compared to the 1.3% drop originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow ended lower by 36.43 points, or 0.4%, at 9,544.20, the Nasdaq closed up by 1.04 points, or 0.1%, at 2,028.77 and the S&P 500 drifted down by 2.05 points, or 0.2%, to 1,028.93.

Major European markets also moved higher over the course of trading on Friday, with the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index advancing 1.2% and 0.9%, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed up 0.8%.

Oil prices closed modestly higher on Friday, ending the session well off the highs for the session but still extending the upward move seen in the previous session. Despite the continued increase, oil remains well off the ten-month high set earlier in the week. After surging to US$73.52 a barrel during the session, crude for October delivery gave up some gains and closed up US$0.24 at US$72.74 a barrel.

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