RTTNews - Strong opens are expected at the open of trading for New Zealand and Australia stocks, on the heels of another day of big gains on Wall Street. U.S. stocks rallied toward what would be their highest close of the year on a series of strong earnings reports and economic data.

New Zealand's sharemarket's response to the Reserve Bank's interest rate decision was subdued.

The market finished generally flat, a day after the RBNZ left interest rates unchanged at a record low of 2.5 percent.

The benchmark NZX-50 index advanced 3.5 points or 0.1 percent at 2,994.0.

The New Zealand Stock Exchange reported trading volume of 41.9 million shares valued at NZ$97.7 million.

Advancing issues outpaced decliners 42 to35 with 36 unchanged.

Among the session's most heavily traded stocks, Auckland International Airport was down NZ$0.01, Air NZ was up .02, AMP New Zealand Office Trust was down .03, Fletcher Building was down .04, Fisher & Paykel Appliances was up a penny, F & P Healthcare was up .04, SkyCity Entertainment was up .02, Rakon was down .04, Telecom Corp of NZ was up .03 and Vector was up a penny.

Among the Australia-NZ dual-listed stocks, Telstra was up .09, Westpac Bank rose .56, Lion Nathan was up a penny, Goodman was down two cents, AMP was up .11, APN News & Media was up 3.5 cents and Australia and NZ Bank was up .62.

In Australia, stocks were modestly stronger, reaching a new nine-month high.

The benchmark A&P/ASX200 index advanced 47.6 points or 1.15 percent at 4,190.4 while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 47.0 points or 1.13 percent at 4,195.9.

Market trading volume was 2.19 billion shares worth A$5.62 billion.

Advancers outnumbered decliners 576 to 450 with 312 unchanged.

The financial sector led the gainers. Among the major banks, Australia and NZ Banking Group rose A$0.62, Commonwealth Bank of Australia was up $1.72, National Australia Bank was up .87 and Westpac was up .56. Investment bank Macquarie Group was up .42.

Among the mining leaders, BHP Billiton was down .28, Rio Tinto was up a dime, Fortescue Metals was up .27 or 6.5 percent and OZ Minerals was up two cents.

For the coal miners, Whitehaven Coal was placed in a trading halt after announcing plans for a $176 million capital raising and raising its guidance for the fiscal year. Centennial Coal was up .08, Felix Resources gained .20 and Macarthur coal was down .11.

In the retail sector, Wesfarmers was down a penny, Woolworths was up .14, JB Hi-Fi declined .50, Harvey Norman was up .08 and David Jones rose .05.

Overseas, a series of strong earnings reports and an unexpected drop in joblessness sent U.S. stocks soaring on Thursday. About a half hour before the closing bell on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 151.98 points or 1.68 percent at 9,222.70, the Nasdaq Composite index was up 29.43 points or 1.50 percent at 1,997.19 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 18.83 points or 1.93 percent at 993.98.

Most major markets in the Asia/Pacific region closed higher on Thursday.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average advanced 51.97 points or 0.51 percent to 10.165.21.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index rose 98.58 points or 0.49 percent to 20,234.08.

China's Shanghai Composite index was up 55.13 points or 1.69 percent to 3,321.56.

The BSE 30 index in India was up 214.50 points or 1.41 percent to 15,387.96.

In Indonesia, the Jakarta Composite index was up 72.32 points or 3.25 percent at 2,298.14.

South Korea's KOSPI/Seoul Composite index was up 10.42 points or 0.68 percent at 1,534.74.

The Taiwan Weighted Index was down 56.52 points or 0.80 percent at 7,027.11.

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