RTTNews - The Australian stock market opened on a firm note on Friday with investors picking up cues from Wall Street and taking positions in energy, materials and financial stocks with renewed enthusiasm. Consumer staples, utilities and industrials are also trading firm.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200 is trading at 3,779, up 55.90 points over its previous close. Earlier, after opening at 3,741, the benchmark had moved on to 3,791 this morning. The All Ordinaries index is up 53.80 points or 1.5% at 3,765.

Shares of miner Rio Tinto rose sharply following the U.S. committee on Foreign Investment clearing its proposed tie-up with the Aluminium Corporation of China. As per the deal proposed in February this year, Chinalco would provide funds to pay down some of Rio Tinto's US39 billion in debt besides increasing its stake in the miner from 9.3 per cent to 19 per cent. Rio Tinto is currently trading 5% up at 60.500.

Among other stocks in the material space, BHP Billiton is up nearly 2%, Incitec Pivot is trading 5.8% up, Newcrest is up 1.3% and Orica is trading higher by 1.85%

In the energy space, Santos and Worleyparsons are gaining 4.25% and 4.75%, respectively. Origin Energy is up 2.6% while Woodside Petroleum is trading 1.2% higher.

Among those from the banking space, ANZ Bank is up 1.4%, National Bank of Australia is trading 2.3% up and Westpac Banking Corporation is moving up by nearly 2%. Commonwealth Bank of Australia is gaining nearly a percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7596 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand and Japan are trading sharply higher. The Korean market is also trading firm.

The Australian stock market had ended sharply lower on Thursday on renewed concerns about the U.S. economy. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had closed at 3,723, down 133 points or 3.44% and the broader All Ordinaries index also fell 132 points or 3.4% to 3,711.

Other stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region also saw notable weakness on Thursday following the sell-off seen on Wall Street overnight. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index showed a steep decline, closing down 2.6 percent.

Major European markets ended the day above the unchanged line, benefiting from some late day strength. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.7 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged up 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, despite a bigger than expected increase in unemployment claims for the week ended May 9th, stocks surged higher on Thursday as traders went bargain hunting after recent setbacks.

Finishing off their highs, the Dow and Nasdaq gained 46.43 points and 25.02 points respectively and the S&P 500 closed up 9.15 points.

According to the data released by the Labor Department, initial jobless claims rose to 637,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 605,000. Economists had been expecting jobless claims to edge up to 610,000 from the 601,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Additionally, the report showed a continued increase in continuing claims, which rose to a new record high of 6.560 million in the week ended May 2nd from the preceding week's revised level of 6.358 million. The continued increase in continuing claims reflects an ongoing hiring freeze.

In other economic news, producer prices increased by a little more than expected in the month of April, according to a separate report released by the Labor Department, with the increase in prices partly due to a rebound in food prices.

A slew of economic data is scheduled to be released on Friday, including the Labor Department's report on consumer price inflation in the month of April. Economists expect consumer prices to come in unchanged after edging down 0.1 percent in March. Trading could also be impacted by the release of reports on industrial production, consumer sentiment, and regional manufacturing activity.

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