Taking cues from Wall Street, the Australian stock market opened on a positive note on Tuesday, extending recent gains, and is currently trading firm with energy, materials and financials stocks calling the shots.

Consumer discretionary and industrials stocks are also trading firm. However, utilities, telecommunications, information technology and healthcare stocks are down with sharp losses.

The benchmark Australian index S&P/ASX 200, which moved on to 3,940 in early trading, has drifted down from that level on encountering some resistance, but is still trading in positive territory at 3,909.40, up 26.40 points over its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is up 46 points or 1.2% at 3892.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading higher by 2.3% and 2% respectively. National Bank is up 1.5% and Wespac is trading higher by 1.6%.

Among materials, Rio Tinto is up 3.7%. BHP Billiton, Newcrest and Orica are up 2.4% - 2.7% over their last closing prices. In the energy space, Worleyparsons and Woodside Petroleum are trading stronger by 3.3% and 3.37% respectively. Capital goods stock Leighton Holdings is trading 3% up.

Diversified financials stock Macquarie Group is up nearly 6.5%. Media stock Newscorp is trading firm with a gain of 5.8%.

In currency market, the Australian dollar is trading at 0.7424 to the U.S. dollar.

Among the economic events to look out for today are the announcement from the Australian central bank on interest rates and the data on domestic building permits.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand is trading firm. The benchmark NZX 50 Index is up 2.32% or 64.06 points at 2,830.34 at present.

The stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region closed considerably higher on Monday as traders reacted positively to a report showing an expansion in Chinese manufacturing. The Japanese market remained closed for a national holiday.

The major European markets also turned in strong performances, although the market in London was closed due to a holiday. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index ended the session up 2.5 percent and 2.8, respectively.

Better than expected economic data kept Wall Street cheerful on Monday. With stocks led by those from the banking space surging sharply on strong buying interest, the Dow closed up up 214.33 points or 2.6 percent at 8,426.74. The Nasdaq ended up 44.36 points or 2.6 percent at 1,763.56 and the S&P 500 closed up 29.72 points or 3.4 percent at 907.24.

With the gains, the Nasdaq ended the session at its best closing level in six-months, while the Dow and the S&P 500 set nearly four-month closing highs. The upward move also lifted the S&P 500 above the unchanged line for the year-to-date period.

A report from the National Association of Realtors showed a significant increase in pending home sales, an indicator of future housing market activity. The increase came as many first-time buyers are taking advantage of historically good housing affordability conditions.

The report showed that NAR's pending home sales index rose 3.2 percent in March following a revised 2.0 percent increase in February. Economists had expected the index to come in unchanged following the 2.1 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

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