The stock market in Australia opened on a firm note Monday with energy and materials posting strong gains in early trading. Industrials, financials, healthcare and consumer staples are also trading firm with impressive gains.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which moved on to 3,815 earlier, is currently trading at 3,807, up 37.40 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is trading at 3,776, up 38.10 points over its previous close.

Among materials stocks, Rio Tinto is trading 3.1% up. Orica is up 6.2%. BHP Billiton and Newcrest are trading higher by 1.7% and 1% respectively.

In the energy space, Woodside Petroleum is up 2.2%, Worleyparsons is trading 2% up and Santos is trading with a gain of 1.6%.

In the banking sector, ANZ Bank is up 1.6%. Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up with a modest gain. National Bank of Australia is trading 1.4% up and Westpac is up 1.2%. Among the stocks from the insurance sector, QBE Insurance is up nearly 2%.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the New Zealand market is trading firm, with the benchmark NZX 50 index gaining nearly 25 points. The Korean benchmark KOSPI is up 17 points at present.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7355 to the U.S. dollar.

On Friday, Wall Street ended with modest gains after a highly choppy ride amid low volumes. While higher natural gas and crude oil prices lifted energy stocks, banks were seen struggling on hearing that results of government's bank stress tests won't be released until May 7.

Chevron closed notably higher after the oil giant reported first-quarter earnings that fell sharply year-over-year but came in better than analysts had expected. Chevron reported first quarter earnings of $1.84 billion or $0.92 per share compared to $5.17 billion or $2.48 per share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had been expecting the company to report earnings of $0.81 per share.

MetLife saw considerable weakness after reporting a first-quarter loss of $574 million or $0.71 per share compared with a profit of $615 million or $0.84 per share in the same quarter last year.

In an interview with RTT News, Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at Standard & Poor's Equity Research suggested that investors turn a deaf ear to the old adage sell in May and go away this year.

Stovall pointed to the fact that since 1932, the market has gained an average of 12.2 percent in the May to October period following bear market bottoms.

In economic news, factory orders fell 0.9%, worse than the 0.6% decline that was expected, and February orders were revised lower to reflect an increase of 0.7%.

The Institute for Supply Management released its report on manufacturing activity in the month of April, showing that activity continued to contract for the month but at a much slower than expected pace.

The ISM said its index of activity in the sector rose to 40.1 in April from 36.3 in March, although a reading below 50 indicates a continued contraction in the sector. Economists had been expecting a more modest increase to a reading of 38.4.

Separately, the Reuters/University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for the month of April was unexpectedly upwardly revised to a reading of 65.1 from the previously reported reading of 61.9. The index was unexpected to be unrevised.

In overseas trading, most of the major markets in both the Asia-Pacific region and Europe were closed on Friday for May Day holidays. Nonetheless, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up 1.7 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed nearly flat.

With the earnings season starting to wind down, economic news is likely to be in focus in the U.S. next week. Traders are likely to pay particularly close attention to the Labor Department's monthly employment report due to be released on Friday.

Reports on construction spending, pending home sales, labor productivity, and wholesale inventories are also likely to attract some attention.

Chesapeake Energy Corp., Sprint Nextel Corp., Entergy Corp, McKesson, Estee Lauder Companies Inc., Tyson Foods Inc, Alcatel Lucent, Henry Schein, Myriad Genetics and E.W. Scripps Co. will be reporting quarterly results on Monday.

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