RTTNews - Trading got off to a cautious start in the Australian market as investors took cues from Wall Street where stock prices had drifted down in late selling on Friday last week on concerns over the U.S. budget deficit. However, with stocks from energy and materials sectors finding some buying support, the market rallied higher and is currently trading firm.

After an early struggle, the Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 has moved up to 3,775, recording a gain of 13.40 points. The All Ordinaries index is up 14.60 points at 3,770. The S&P/ASX 200 index had closed lower by 52.30 points at 3,762 on Friday. The All Ordinaries had finished at 3,755, lower by 49.40 points.

The Australian market regulator has lifted a ban on covered short-selling of financial stocks but has stated that it will not hesitate to reimpose the ban immediately and without consultation if market conditions warrant such action.

Despite the regulator's move, bank stocks are not facing any significant buying interest this morning. ANZ Bank is down by 0.7%. Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading lower by 1.7%. National Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading near their previous closing prices.

Energy and materials stocks are trading firm. Energy stock Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are up sharply. In the materials space, Rio Tinto is up 2.7%, BHP Billiton is gaining 1.5%, Orica is up by 1.85% and Newcrest Mining is trading 1.5% higher.

Utilities and industrials are also in focus. Food & Staples retailing component Wesfarmers is down by over 2%.

Healthcare issues are exhibiting weakness with CSL suffering a sharp loss of 2.7%. A few stocks from information technology, telecom, and consumer discretionary sectors are trading higher.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7806 to the U.S. dollar.

Following a big increase in Chinese demand and on weak U.S. dollar, oil prices edged past $62 a barrel in early trading Monday.

Crude oil finished modestly higher amid choppy trading, adding to its strong week. Oil's hedge value was boosted as the dollar continued to fall against other majors. Light sweet crude for July delivery moved to $61.67, up 62 cents on the session. Oil had jumped to around $62 a barrel earlier in the day.

On Wall Street, stocks faced some selling pressure during the final minutes on Friday on worries about the budget deficit. The Dow ended 14.81 points down at 8,277.32 and the Nasdaq closed 3.24 points down at 1,692.01. The S&P 500 fell marginally by 1.33 points to 887.

Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region finished lower on Friday. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index slipped by 0.4 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 percent.

Major European markets, however, closed modestly higher. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both finished higher by 0.3 percent. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also closed mildly higher, rising by 0.4 percent.

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