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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is trading firm on Monday with investors picking up stocks from across various sectors, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street where the major averages ended modestly higher last Friday.

Consumer staples, industrial, mining and property trusts stocks are mostly trading higher. Financial and energy stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 21.9 points or 0.5 percent at 4,384. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,454, up 20.6 points or 0.5 percent from its previous close.

Among bank stocks, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are up marginally and ANZ Bank is up 0.6 percent, while National Australia Bank is trading lower by 0.7 percent.

Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down marginally and Bank of Queensland is gaining 0.7 percent, while Macquarie Group is up nearly 3 percent.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining are up 1.2 to 1.5 percent, while Fortescue Metals is trading flat.

In the energy sector, Santos is down 0.4 percent and Oil Search is trading lower by 0.8 percent. Origin Energy is down marginally, while Woodside Petroleum and Caltex Australia are trading modestly higher.

Aquarius Platinum is up more than 5 percent. Whitehaven Coal, Seek, Seven West Media, Perseus Mining and Asciano are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.

QR National, Boart Longyear, Primary Healthcare, Leighton Holdings, Qantas Airways, Westfield Group, Tatts Group, Westfield Retail Trust, Investa Office Fund and Boral are also trading notably higher.

Meanwhile, Toll Holdings and Fairfax Media are trading weak, losing 1.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Harvey Norman Holdings, Iluka Resources, Boart Longyear, Aquarius Platinum, Downer EDI, Paladin Energy and Onesteel are also trading notably lower.

On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of Australia is widely expected to cut cash rate by at least 25 basis points on May 1, when the bank's board will take a call on interest rates.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Korea are trading higher, while Singapore is trading weak. Markets in China and Japan are closed for holidays due to Labour Day and Showa Day, respectively. Markets across the region closed mostly lower on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks posted modest gains on Friday, with some upbeat earnings news as well as a better than expected reading on consumer sentiment triggering some buying.

The major averages ended the day in positive territory but off their highs for the session. The Dow edged up 23.7 points or 0.2 percent to 13,228.3, the Nasdaq climbed 18.6 points or 0.6 percent to 3,069.2 and the S&P 500 crept up 3.4 points or 0.2 percent to 1,403.4.

Major European markets ended higher on Friday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index moved up 0.5 percent, while the German DAX index and the French CAC index gained 0.9 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures settled a near four-week high on Friday, extending gains for a fourth straight day, as the dollar continued to weaken. Crude for June delivery gained $0.38 or 0.4 percent to close at $104.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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