RTTNews - After a weak start, the Australian stock market rebounded into positive territory on Wednesday with investors indulging in some buying in financial, utility and consumer staples stocks at lower levels. Energy and materials stocks are exhibiting weakness this morning.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which fell to 4,142.4 after opening at 4,169.5, is currently trading at 4,174.6, up 5.1 points over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up by 3.4 points at 4,177.4.

On Tuesday, the S&P/ASX 200 index added 29.9 points or 0.72% to close at 4,170 while the All Ordinaries index closed with a gain of 26.2 points or 0.63% at 4,174.

Materials stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are currently down by 2% and 2.6% respectively. Other stocks in the materials space are mostly trading flat.

In the energy space, Santos and Origin Energy are down by over 2%, while Woodside Petroleum is trading lower by 0.7%.

National Australia Bank Ltd has agreed to acquire 80.1% of Goldman Sachs JBWere's private wealth management business in Australia and New Zealand for A$99 million. NAB and GSJBW said additional consideration for the deal will be performance related and dependent on revenues generated by the business over three years. The National Australia Bank stock is currently up with a modest 0.3% gain.

Among other bank majors, ANZ Bank is up 1.7%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is gaining 0.6% and Westpac Banking Corporation is trading nearly a percent up.

Macquarie Group Ltd said its operational performance improved in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, but added that short-term forecasting remained extremely difficult. The investment bank also said its first-half profit was likely to be midway between the profit reported for the first half of fiscal 2009 and the second half of fiscal 2009. The company's stock is trading up by about 1.5%.

Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd has announced that it has successfully completed the A$133.1 million institutional components of its capital raising. The carrier announced on Monday a A$231.4 million fully underwritten equity raising aimed at strengthening its balance sheet. Today, Virgin Blue said an institutional placement of 105.2 million shares had raised A$21 million, while an institutional entitlement offer of approximately 560.4 million shares raised A$112.1 million. The new shares were issued at 20 cents each.

In economic news, the Australian Office of Financial Management conducts a tender for A$700 million in June 2014 Commonwealth government bonds. In addition, the State Street global investor confidence index for July and the Housing Industry Association new home sales data for June will be released.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower this morning, following a weak show by stocks on Wall Street overnight. In early trading, the Aussie was quoting at US$0.8267/69, down from Tuesday's close of US$0.8306/09.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan,Singapore and Korea are trading modestly higher, while the New Zealand market is down in the red. Stock markets across the region finished largely on the upside on Tuesday.

Wall Street ended Tuesday's session on a mixed note in reaction to the day's varied earnings and economic reports. The major averages closed on opposite sides of the unchanged mark, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a modest gain.

On the economic front, according to a release from the Consumer Conference Board, the consumer confidence index fell to 46.6 in July, reflecting less favorable assessments of both current conditions and the near-term outlook. Earlier, Standard and Poor's released a separate report showing that although U.S. home prices continued to decline at a significant annual rate in the month of May, the pace of decline in prices slowed for the fourth consecutive month.

Moving in a choppy fashion right through the day, the Dow ended lower by 11.79 points or 0.1% at 9,096.72. The Nasdaq closed up by 7.62 points or 0.4% at 1,975.51 and the S&P 500 slipped by 2.56 points or 0.3% to 976.92.

Major European markets closed firmly on the downside, with the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index finishing down by 1.5% and 1.2% respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index slipped by 1.3%.

Crude oil finished lower on Tuesday, surrendering some recent gains, on demand concerns. Light sweet crude for August delivery dropped to US$67.23 on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down US$1.15 on the session.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com