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Australian Market Trades Higher

The Australian stock market is trading firm on Monday with investors picking up stocks, reacting to positive economic data from the U.S. and China.

Energy and mining stocks are among the top gainers. Financial, property trust and healthcare stocks are also edging higher, while consumer staples and industrial stocks are trading slightly weak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,377.5, is currently trading at 4,367.2, up 32 points or 0.7 percent, over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 31 points or 0.7 percent at 4,451, down slightly from the day's high of 4,460.7.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton is up 2.5 percent, Rio Tinto is gaining 2.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is trading 2.2 percent up, while Newcrest Mining is up by around 1.5 percent.

Among energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search are up 1.5 to 1.7 percent, while Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are gaining 1 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are up 0.2 to 0.5 percent. However, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are trading weak, losing 0.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Panaust is up nearly 5 percent. Perseus Mining and Onesteel are up 4 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively.

Iluka Resources, Alumina, Goodman Group, Atlas Iron and Beach Energy are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.APA Group, Amcor, Graincorp and WorleyParsons are also trading notably higher.

However, Qantas Airways is trading lower by 3.3 percent. Myer Holdings is down with a loss of 2.3 percent and Leighton Holdings is down nearly 2 percent.

In economic news, the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge rose 0.5 percent in March, following an increase of 0.1 percent in February, according to a survey.

In the year to March, the inflation gauge rose 1.8 percent - the lowest annual inflation rate for two years and falling just shy of the Reserve Bank of Australia's two to three per cent inflation target band for the medium term.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0395 in early trades, up 0.3 percent from Friday's close of US$1.0363.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and South Korea are trading notably higher. Malaysia is up marginally, while New Zealand is slightly weak. Markets across the region ended on a mixed note on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a somewhat lackluster performance on Friday amid uncertainty about the outlook for the markets following the fairly sharp jump in the first quarter and on a mixed batch of U.S. economic data.

The major averages ended the day mixed, with the Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Dow rose 66.2 points or 0.5 percent to 13,212 and the S&P 500 edged up 5.2 points or 0.4 percent to 1,408.5, the Nasdaq ended down 3.8 points or 0.1 percent at 3,091.6.

Major European markets moved higher on Friday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.5 percent, while the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index advanced by 1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures ended higher on Friday as the dollar weakened on developments in Europe and some encouraging consumer spending data from the U.S. Crude for May delivery ended up $0.24 or 0.2 percent at $103.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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