RTTNews - The Australian stock market opened on a weak note Friday despite a positive close overnight on Wall Street where stocks surged higher on the back of encouraging manufacturing data.

Bank stocks are among the prominent losers in early trading today. Industrials, consumer discretionary and telecommunications stocks are also trading weak. Energy and material stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend. Some buying is seen in technology and healthcare stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which fell to 4,346.1 this morning, is currently trading at 4,350.9, down 26.6 points or 0.6% from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down by 23 points or 0.5% at 4,368.4.

On Thursday, the S&P/ASX 200 index had ended at 4,377.5 with a gain of 3.7 points while the All Ordinaries index finished with a gain of 3.8 points or 0.1% at 4,391.3.

Westpac Banking Corp. posted first-quarter cash earnings of A$1.1 billion as Australia's biggest bank by market value increased lending and deposits. Bad debts for three months to June 30 increased to A$865 million from A$811 million in the preceding quarter, Sydney-based Westpac said in a statement on Friday. The stock is currently trading down by nearly 2%.

Among others in the banking space, ANZ Bank is down by 0.4%, National Australia Bank is is trading lower by 1.6% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading lower by 0.5%. Diversified financial stock Macquarie Group is up by a modest 0.5%.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd, or IAG, reported an annual profit and says it's confident of improving its performance this year on top of further premium and margin growth. The general insurer said net profit for the year ended June 30 recovered to A$181 million, from a loss of A$261 million in the previous financial year. However, the stock is down by over 6% this morning because the result was slightly below analysts' forecasts.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton is up with a modest gain and Rio Tinto is trading lower by over 1%. Incitec Pivot, Orical, Bluescope Steel and Newcrest Mining are trading weak, while Fortescue Metals is trading modestly higher.

In the energy space, Woodside Petroleum is up by about 1%, Santos is trading 1.6% up and Oil Search is up with a gain of 1.5%. Origin Energy is down by nearly 1%.

Macquarie Airports has affirmed its calendar year distribution guidance of 21 cents per security after booking a first-half loss. The net loss for the six months ended June 30 was A$299.38 million compared to loss of A$274 million in the previous corresponding period.

The group said the result predominantly reflected the impact of airport revaluations, which had no impact on operating performance, cashflows or distributions. Proportionate consolidated pro-forma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 4.2% per cent. The stock is trading nearly a percent up over its previous close.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.8285 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is trading with a modest loss, New Zealand is trading flat, while Singapore and Korea are up with modest gains. Stock markets across the region had closed mostly higher on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher on Thursday, aided by some upbeat news from the manufacturing sector that helped to offset a disappointing jobs report. Some buying interest was generated by the release of a report from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve saying that manufacturing activity in the mid-Atlantic region showed some signs of stabilization.

Separately, research group the Conference Board said that its leading economic indicators index increased for the fourth consecutive month in July, signifying a likely improvement in economic conditions in the near term.

The Dow closed up by 70.89 points or 0.8% at 9,350.05, the Nasdaq moved up by 19.98 points or 1% to 1,989.22 and the S&P 500 ended up by 10.91 points or 1.1% to 1,007.37.

Major European markets closed on the upside, with the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index rising by 1.5% and 1.6% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index rose by 1.4%.

With traders doing some profit taking, crude oil saw some weakness on Thursday after showing a substantial upward move in the previous session. Disappointing employment data inspired some traders to cash in on Wednesday's gains. After ending Wednesday's trading up nearly US$3 a barrel, crude for October delivery ended the session down US$0.92 at US$72.91 a barrel.

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