After a flat start, the Australian stock market is edging higher on Friday with investors indulging in some selective buying after six successive days of losses. The mood, however, remains cautious amid lingering worries about the global economic outlook.
Shares from financial, industrial, property trusts and utilities sectors are trading slightly higher, while energy, mining and healthcare stocks are mostly trading flat.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rallied to 4,082.3 after an initial fall to 4,062.3, is currently trading at 4,074.4, up 6.4 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 5.5 points at 4,111.5.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are up marginally, while Westpac is trading nearly a percent up. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up with modest gains.
In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is up marginally, while Rio Tinto is trading 0.3 percent down and Newcrest Mining is losing about 1.3 percent. Fortescue Metals is down by over 2 percent.
In the energy space, Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Origin Energy are trading modestly higher, while Santos and Caltex Australia are down 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Bluescope Steel is gaining 3.6 percent. Beach Energy, Stockland, Perseus Mining and Regis Resources are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.
Goodman Group, Fairfax Media, Lynas Corporation, James Hardie Industries, Alumina, Qantas Airways, Tabcorp Holdings and Transurban Group are also trading notably higher.
Whitehaven Coal is lower by over 6.5 percent. Paladin Energy is down 3.2 percent and Iluka Resources is trading lower by about 2.5 percent. Panaust, Boart Longyear and Toll Holdings are also trading weak.
Specialty Fashion Group shares are down 2.8 percent after the company warned that its full-year earnings are likely to halve due to a drop in sales.
In an earnings update on Friday, the retailer said revenue for the year to June 30, 2012, was likely to be flat at A$573 million as a result of tough trading conditions. Like-for-like sales, which exclude the impact of store openings and closures, were down 3.4 percent.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea are trading slightly weak, while Malaysia is up marginally. Markets across the region ended lower on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks regained some lost ground after early weakness on Thursday but still ended the session in the red, as concerns about the outlook for the economy continued to weigh on the markets.
The major averages ended the day in negative territory but well off their worst levels of the session. The Dow closed lower by 31.3 points or 0.3 percent at 12,573.3, the Nasdaq drifted down 21.8 points or 0.8 percent to 2,866.2 and the S&P 500 dropped 6.7 points or 0.5 percent to 1,334.8.
Major European markets also ended lower on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 1 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index declined by 0.7 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures ended higher following a late rally on Thursday after the International Energy Agency raised its oil demand growth forecast and investors weighed some crucial initial jobless claims data which showed first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped by 26,000 last week, the lowest in over four years.
Crude for August delivery gained $0.27 or 0.3 percent to close at $86.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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