The Australian stock market is trading higher on Thursday, following a positive lead from Wall Street overnight. In the local market, financial stocks led the gainers. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 42 points or 1.13% to 3,790, after closing 5.4% lower on Wednesday. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 42 points or 1.13% to 3,736.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened stronger. The Aussie opened at US$0.7286-0.7292, up from Wednesday's close of US$0.7175-0.7178.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks closed Wednesday's volatile trading session higher, amid a mixed bag of economic reports as well as earnings news from some big-name companies. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report showed continued economic contraction in many parts of the country, but signs that the contraction is slowing. The Dow closed up 109 points or 1.38% at 8,030, the Nasdaq gained 1 point or 0.07% to 1,627, and the S&P 500 added 11 points or 1.25% to finish at 852.
On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of Australia bulletin for foreign exchange transaction in April is scheduled to be released.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 2.18%, ANZ Banking Group is rising 0.71%, and National Australia Bank is adding 1.84%. Westpac is edging up 0.10%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is gaining 3.45%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is edging down 0.24%, and Rio Tinto is gaining 1.06%. Gold miners were weaker, despite gold closing marginally higher on Wednesday. Lihir Gold is edging down 0.33%, Sino Gold is losing 0.56%, and Newcrest Mining is dropping 1.18%.
On Wednesday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed modestly lower, staying marginally below the key technical support level of $50 a barrel, after an Energy Information Administration data revealed a build in crude oil stockpiles from last week, sharply higher than analysts' expectations. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories increased for a 25th time in 29 weeks by 5.6 million barrels to 366.7 million barrels in the week ended April 10, 2009, being the highest level in nearly 19 years.
Oil closed down $0.16 at $49.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, after hitting an intraday low of $48.91 and a high of $50.79. In the Asian session Thursday, crude is currently up $0.75 at $50.00 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is rising 1.05%, Oil Search is edging up 0.19%, and Santos is adding 1.07%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is adding 0.65%, Coles' owner Wesfarmers is rising 3.42%, and Woolworths is edging up 0.39%.
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