The Australian stock market is trading higher on Thursday, following a triple-digit gain on Wall Street overnight. In the local market, financial and resource stocks lead the market gainers. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 75 points or 2.09% to 3,655, after closing more nearly unchanged on Wednesday. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 70 points or 1.98% to 3,597.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened stronger. The Aussie opened at US$0.6993-0.6999, up from Wednesday's close of US$0.6876-0.6878.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks closed Wednesday's trading session higher, after better-than-expected economic data released on pending home sales, construction spending, and manufacturing activity raised hopes of an improvement in the economy, with investors shrugging-off some negative news. Also, traders kept an eye on London throughout the session, waiting for news from the G20 summit of global leaders. The Dow closed up 153 points or 2.01% at 7,762, the Nasdaq gained 23 points or 1.51% to 1,552, and the S&P 500 added 13 points or 1.66% to finish at 811.
On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that Australia posted a seasonally adjusted trade surplus of a sharply better-than-expected A$2.11 billion in February. Exports jumped 4% from the previous month, while imports were down 1% on month.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 1.18%, ANZ Banking Group is gaining 1.70%, and National Australia Bank is adding 2.46%. Westpac is rising 0.98%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is surging 4.85%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is adding 1.34%, and Rio Tinto is gaining 3.16%. Gold miners were stronger, after gold closed modestly higher for a second straight session on Wednesday. Lihir Gold is adding 2.09%, Sino Gold is climbing 7.17%, and Newcrest Mining is gaining 3.14%.
On Wednesday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed lower, paring all of the previous session's gains, after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a build in crude oil stockpiles from last week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased for a 23rd time in 27 weeks by 2.84 million barrels to 359.4 million barrels in the week ended March 27, 2009. US crude oil stockpiles rose to a 15-year high.
Oil closed down $1.27 at $48.39 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, after hitting an intraday low of $47.26 and a high of $48.96. In the Asian session Thursday, crude is currently up $0.23 at $48.62 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is edging up 0.16%, and Oil Search is up 0.38%, while Santos is losing 1.16%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is gaining 2.49%, and Woolworths is edging up 0.12%, while Coles' owner Wesfarmers is losing 0.73%.
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