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Australian Market Trades Weak

The Australian market is trading weak on Friday after paring early gains, with investors treading cautiously and pressing sales in some key mining and energy stocks. This despite a positive lead from Wall Street where stocks ended higher overnight on strong economic data.

Property trusts and information technology stocks are also mostly trading weak, while financial and healthcare stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 14 points or 0.3 percent at 4,263.8. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,354, down 12.9 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are up marginally, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading slightly weak. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading flat, while Bank of Queensland is up 0.4 percent.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton is down 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is trading 0.2 percent lower and Newcrest Mining is down marginally, while Rio Tinto is trading modestly higher.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy are down 0.4 to 1 percent. Caltex Australia, faring slightly better, is down with a marginal loss.

Myer Holdings, Alumina, Aquarius Platinum, Sims Metal Management and Paladin Energy are down 2 to 3 percent.

David Jones, Mirvac Group, Computershare, Suncorp Group amd Westfield Retail Trust are down by over 1.5 percent.

Monadelphous Group, Panaust, Onesteel, Insurance Australia Group, Challenger and Stockland are also trading notably lower.

Allied Healthcare Group Ltd shares are down more than 16 percent following an announcement from the company that it is selling new shares to raise up to A$6.36 million to take forward the work of former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer. The company will use the funds to accelerate development of a vaccine for human papillomavirus, one of the world's most common sexually-transmitted diseases.

Duet Group, Transfield Services and Graincorp are trading stronger by 2.5 to 3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0533 in early trades, up nearly 0.8 percent from Thursday's close of US$1.0450.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are down marginally. Shanghai is trading notably lower, while Malaysia is trading slightly up.
Markets across the region turned in a lackluster performance and ended on a mixed note on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved higher on Thursday with traders reacting positively to some upbeat economic data. The major averages closed firmly in positive territory, near their best levels of the day. The Dow rose 58.7 points or 0.4 percent to 13,252.8, the Nasdaq climbed 15.6 points or 0.5 percent to 3,056.4 and the S&P 500 advanced 8.3 points or 0.6 percent to 1,402.6.

Major European markets ended on a mixed note on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index gained 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures closed lower for a second straight day Thursday, but rallied to make up for most of the losses for the day after a White House spokesman denied any moves for a joint strategic oil reserve release by the U.S. and U.K.

Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for April delivery, shed $0.32 or 0.3 percent to close at $105.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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