The Australian stock market pared initial losses and was trading higher on Wednesday, led by banks and oil-related stocks.

In late morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was gaining 28.70 points, or 0.80%, to 3,608.70 and the broader All Ordinaries Index was advancing 28.40 points, or 0.81%, to 3,545.70.

Overnight, U.S. stocks moved back to the downside, partly offsetting the standout gains posted in the previous session. While profit taking contributed to some weakness in the markets, selling pressure remained relatively subdued, helping the major averages to hold onto the bulk of Monday's gains.

Crude oil closed modestly higher on Tuesday. Light sweet crude for May delivery gained $0.18 to end at $53.98 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Australian market posted a modest gain on Tuesday. The S&P/ASX200 index finished higher by 29.7 points or 0.84% at 3,580.0 and the All Ordinaries index gained 34.2 points or 0.98% to close at 3,517.

The markets have little to digest in terms of economic news on Wednesday.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was trading lower against the U.S. dollar in late morning trades Wednesday, in a range of US$0.6962-US$0.6966, down from Tuesday's close of US$0.7072-US$0.7076.

The major banks are trading sharply higher. Australia and NZ Bank is gaining 2.06%, National Australia Bank is rising 3.99%, Westpac Bank is adding 2.66% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia is advancing 2.65%. However, investment bank Macquarie Group is down 2.16%.

In the resources sector, the mining conglomerates are trading lower after metal prices, such as copper and nickel, softened. BHP Billiton is losing 1.78% and rival Rio Tinto is edging down 0.54%. Gold miners were mostly trading weak after gold closed lower for a third straight session overnight. Newcrest is down 1.69% and Lihir Gold is losing 2.43%, while Sino Gold is adding 1.27%.

Following the modest gain in crude oil price overnight, oil stock Woodside Petroleum is adding 2.31%, Santos is surging 6.14% and Oil Search is gaining 2.76%.

Among retailers, Wesfarmers is gaining 3.37%, Harvey Norman is up 0.39% and David Jones is adding 0.34%, while Woolworths is unchanged.

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