The Australian stock market is trading higher on Wednesday, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street where stocks posted solid gains overnight amid optimism about further stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Financial, energy and information technology stocks are among the prominent gainers. Mining and healthcare stocks are also finding fairly good support.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which surged to 4,159.3 after a positive start, is currently trading at 4,150, up 26.7 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 27.6 points or 0.6 percent at 4,195, off an early high of 4,202.6.
Among bank stocks, Westpac is up 2.2 percent, National Australia Bank is gaining about 2 percent, ANZ Bank is gaining 1.2 percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading 1 percent up, while Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are trading flat.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton is up nearly a percent, Rio Tinto is gaining 1.8 percent and Fortescue Metals is trading higher by 2.5 percent, while Newcrest Mining is trading weak, losing about 1 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Caltex Australia are up 0.5 to 0.7 percent, while Oil Search and Origin Energy are up 1.7 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
Lynas Corporation shares are up nearly 4 percent following an announcement from the company that it hopes to fire up its rare earths plant in Malaysia soon after a parliamentary panel ruled the project is safe.
The panel's decision last week removed the final obstacle faced by Lynas, after the science ministry rejected an appeal by residents to revoke a licence granted to Lynas earlier this year.
Bluescope Steel is up nearly 4 percent. Incitec Pivot, Challenger and Aurora Oil & Gas are trading higher by 2 to 2.5 percent.
Whitehaven Coal, Panaust, Qantas Airways, Fairfax Media, Echo Entertainment Group and Boart Longyear are also trading notably higher.
Perseus Mining, Toll Holdings, Graincorp and Regis Resources are trading lower by 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
In economic news, the Conference Board's leading index for Australia declined 1.4 percent in April, the Conference Board reported Wednesday. The Board said a large decline in building approvals was the primary reason for the decline. It added that weakness among the leading indicators was "somewhat more widespread than the strengths in recent months."
The coincident index, which measures current economic activity, was up 0.2 percent for April. The board said modest increases were seen in in all sub-categories of the CEI, the Board said.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0188 in early trades, up notably from Tuesday's close of US$1.0126.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan and South Korea are trading notably higher, while Malaysia is up marginally and New Zealand is trading notably lower. Markets across the region ended on a mixed note on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended with solid gains on Tuesday with traders expressing continued optimism about the likelihood of further stimulus from the Federal Reserve.
The major averages gave back some ground in the latter part of the trading day but still closed firmly in positive territory. The Dow gained 95.5 points or 0.8 percent to 12,837.3, the Nasdaq jumped 34.4 points or 1.2 percent to 2,929.8 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.2 points or 1 percent to 1,358.
Major European markets ended sharply higher on Tuesday. The German DAX index gained 1.8 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index both jumped by 1.7 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures settled higher on Tuesday, ahead of the Federal Reserve Open Committee meeting, with investors anticipating further quantitative easing to be forthcoming this time from the central bank. Prices also found support in some encouraging U.S. housing data and Spain achieving its target at a bond sale auction, albeit at high costs.
Crude for July delivery gained $0.76 or 0.9 percent to close at $84.03 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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