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Australian Market Trades Notably Higher

The Australian market is trading notably higher on Monday with investors indulging in some hectic buying almost across the board, following a rate cut by the Chinese central bank and on hopes of a solution to the financial crisis in Greece.

Mining, energy, industrial, consumer discretionary and healthcare stocks are mostly up in positive territory with strong gains. Financial, information technology and property trusts stocks are also trading firm.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,253, is currently trading at 4,239, up 43.1 points or 1 percent over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 43.7 points or 1 percent at 4,317, a few points off the day's high of 4,329.6.

CSR, Lynas Corp. and Aquarius Platinum are up 4.5 to 5 percent. Boral, Myer Holdings, Campbell Brothers and Atlas Iron are trading higher by 3 to 3.6 percent.

Amcor is gaining 3.3 percent after the company maintained its full-year guidance for its three main business divisions. Amcor reported a net profit of A$204.9 million for the six months to December 31, down 9.4 percent from A$226.1 million.

Seven West Media, Goodman Fielder, Fortescue Metals, Newcrest Mining, News Corp., Downer EDI, Paladin Energy, Bank of Queensland and Qantas Airways are also up sharply.

BlueScope Steel Limited shares are down 4 percent after the company reported a loss of A$530 million for the first half ended December 31, after booking one-off restructuring and impairment costs.

Challenger is trading lower by 3.6 percent. Telstra Corp., another prominent loser, is down by about 3.5 percent.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is down 1.5 percent after the bank said its first half profit dropped 67 percent, with the result impacted by write-downs on intangible assets.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0782 in early trades, up slightly from Friday's close of US$1.0777.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance on Friday after showing a strong upward move in the previous session. The choppy trading came as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves going into the long weekend.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Nasdaq ended down 8.1 points or 0.3 percent at 2,951.8, the Dow climbed 45.8 points or 0.4 percent to 12,989.9 and the S&P 500 edged up 3.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,361.2.

Major European markets ended higher on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index ended the day up by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both surged 1.4 percent.

U.S. Crude oil futures closed at a nine-month high on Friday, on some upbeat U.S. economic data and the possibility of a resolution to the Greek sovereign debt problem. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for March delivery gained $0.93 or 0.9 percent to settle at $103.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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