RTTNews - The Australian stock market ended in positive territory on Wednesday, led by resource stocks after commodity prices rose in the international market on expectations of higher demand. Data that showed that consumer confidence in Australia rose sharply in June cemented expectations of an early recovery after the economy avoided a technical recession with marginal growth in the first quarter. Resilient trading on Wall Street on underlying optimism for a recovery also kept sentiment upbeat
In the U.S., the Treasury Department announced that 10 of the largest U.S. financial institutions that borrowed money from the Treasury under the TARP funding are planning to repay their loans. JP Morgan Chase (JPM), U.S. Bancorp (USB) and Bank of New York Mellon (BK) were among the banks that will repay a total of $68 billion. An announcement from the Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that he plans to begin reforming the U.S. regulatory system soon also augured well , which saw some life in the stock market in late afternoon Tuesday after witnessing choppy trading in the morning session.
Earlier traders were presented with mixed economic data. A report from the Commerce Department revealed that U.S. wholesale inventories fell by a little more than expected in the month of April. The report showed that wholesale inventories fell 1.4% in April following a revised 1.8% decrease in March. Economists had expected inventories to decrease by about 1.1% compared to the 1.6% drop originally reported for the previous month. Additionally, the Commerce Department said that wholesale sales edged down 0.4% in April after falling by a more significant 2.4% in March. Wholesale sales were down 19.5% compared to the same month a year ago.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed up by 17.73 points or 1% at 1,860 and the S&P 500 rose 3.29 points or 0.4% to 942, while the Dow slipped by 1.43 points or 0.02% to 8,763.
The All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 3,933 and moved sharply higher, led by resource stocks on higher commodity prices in the international market. Positive economic data on consumer confidence for May and a rise in housing finance commitments lifted market sentiment. The index ended up at 4,016, representing a sharp gain of 82.70 points or 1.20%. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended higher at 4,024, a gain of 89.50points or 2.27%.
On the economic front, the latest survey by the Westpac and Melbourne Institute revealed that consumer sentiment in the country rose 12.7% to 100.1 points in June from 88.8 points in May, after the economy registered positive growth in the March Quarter. This was also the second largest increase in the index since the survey began in 1974. A reading above 100 indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.
In a separate report, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the total value of housing finance commitments, excluding alterations, rose a seasonally adjusted 3.6% month-on-month in April to A$21.5 billion. The report further noted that of the total housing finance commitments, investment housing commitments rose 8.9%, while owner occupied housing commitments increased 1.9% in April.
Crude oil prices continued its northward march and ended higher with a gain of $1.06 at $71.07 a barrel in Asian trading. Light sweet crude for July delivery rose sharply to a seven-month high on higher demand and ended with a gain of $1.92 at $70.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday.
Resource stocks led the gains on higher copper prices in the international market. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, advanced 3.29%, and its rival Rio Tinto gained 3.43% . Metals soared more than 15% as small mining companies are bullish about their prospects following the fall-out of the Rio Tinto - Chinalco deal and the signing of a new joint venture deal between Rio Tinto and BHP Billitonfor combining the operations of the mines in Western Australia.
In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum advanced 1.45%, Santos surged 3.72% and Oil Search soared more than 4.5% on higher oil prices.
Among financial stocks, ANZ Bank gained 2.50%, Commonwealth Bank advanced 2.62%, and Westpac Banking increased 2.27%. National Australia Bank added 1.94%..
Gold stocks also advanced on higher bullion prices in the market. Lihir Gold advanced 1.33%, Newcrest Mining edged up 0.47% and Sino Gold Mining advanced 1.87%.
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