The Australian stock market is trading marginally higher on Monday, following a modestly positive closing on Wall Street Friday. In the local market, financial stocks led the gainers, while resource stocks were hit by weaker commodity prices. In early trading, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 10 points or 0.26% to 3,745, after closing more than one-and-a-half percent higher on Friday. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 11 points or 0.29% to 3,685.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened stronger. The Aussie opened at US$0.7154-0.7162, up from Friday's close of US$0.7133-0.7138.
On Wall Street, U.S. stocks ended Friday's volatile direction less trading session modestly higher, after traders digested weak employment data along with some positive remarks from Fed Chairman Bernanke. Bernanke said that programs enacted by the Federal Reserve to unfreeze the credit markets are working and have lowered the cost and increased the availability of credit. In the midst of extraordinarily challenging times for the financial system and economy, Bernanke stated that he is confident that growth will be restored. The Dow closed up 40 points or 0.50% at 8,018, the Nasdaq gained 19 points or 1.20% to 1,622, and the S&P 500 added 8 points or 0.97% to finish at 843.
On the economic front, the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge fell 0.1% in March, while the annual rate rose by 2.6%.
The survey from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed that the total number of job advertisements fell 8.5% in March from the month before, to average 147,804 a week.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up 0.53%, and National Australia Bank is gaining 1.84%, while ANZ Banking Group is edging down 0.17%. Westpac is adding 1.03%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is surging 4.58%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 1.16%, and Rio Tinto is falling 0.88%. Gold miners were weaker, after gold closed lower on Friday. Lihir Gold is losing 3.23%, Newcrest Mining is dropping 1.82%, and Sino Gold is falling 3.64%.
On Friday, crude oil futures for May delivery closed modestly lower, after another dismal employment report fueled concerns over energy demand. Oil closed down $0.13 at $52.51 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Friday, after hitting an intraday low of $51.02 and a high of $53.90. In the Asian session Tuesday, crude is currently up $0.44 at $52.95 a barrel in electronic trading.
Among energy stocks, Oil Search is edging up 0.38%, while Woodside is falling 1.20% and Santos is losing 0.23%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is slipping 0.70%, Woolworths is edging down 0.12%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers is losing 1.55%.
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