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Australian Market Trades Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is trading higher on Thursday with investors indulging in some buying despite a negative lead from Wall Street overnight.

Financial, property trusts and mining stocks are attracting buyers, while healthcare, industrial and information technology stocks are trading weak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 18.7 points or 0.4 percent at 4,273. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,363, up 16 points or 0.4 percent over its previous close.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are up 1 to 1.2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading 0.5 percent up.

Bank of Queensland is up 0.3 percent, while Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Macquarie Group are trading higher by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton is up marginally, while Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are trading higher by 1.7 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

In the energy sector, Caltex Australia, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search are down 0.2 to 0.6 percent, while Origin Energy is up marginally.

Perseus Mining is up 4.4 percent. James Hardie Industries is gaining about 3 percent. Aquarius Platinum, Atlas Iron and Iluka Resources are up 2 to 2.6 percent.

QBE Insurance Group, Onesteel, Alumina, Stockland, Whitehaven Coal, Oz Minerals and Tatts Group are also trading notably higher.

Leighton Holdings is down nearly 3.5 percent. David Jones is trading lower by over 2 percent, while Boart Longyear and Resmed are down 1.2 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Shares of Sigma Pharmaceuticals Limited are up 3.5 percent following the company returning to full-year profitability. Sigma reported a net profit of A$49.17 million in the 12 months to January 31, compared to loss of A$235.38 million in the previous corresponding period.

Shares of brick and tile maker Brickworks Limited are down nearly a percent following the company reporting a 54 percent decline in first-half net profit to A$54.1 million from A$117.1 million in the prior corresponding period.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weak and was quoting at US$1.0455 in early trades, down 0.3 percent from Wednesday's close of US$1.0488.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and New Zealand are up marginally, while Malaysia and South Korea are trading weak. Markets across the region turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved in a choppy manner on Wednesday, as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves. The major averages ended the session mixed, with the Nasdaq closing just above the unchanged line.

The Nasdaq inched up 1.2 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,075.3, while the Dow ended down 45.6 points or 0.4 percent at 13,124.6 and the S&P 500 slipped 2.6 points or 0.2 percent to 1,402.9.

Major European markets closed on a mixed note on Wednesday. The French CAC 40 index edged down by 0.1 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed just above the unchanged line and the German DAX index ended up 0.2 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures settled higher on Wednesday following a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. Crude for May delivery, the new front month contract, gained $1.66 or 1.1 percent to close at $107.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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