The Australian stock market is trading marginally higher amid selective buying on Friday. Despite a fairly strong lead from Wall Street, the mood is somewhat cautious in the market and investors are mostly seen tracking quarterly earnings reports for direction.
Energy, consumer staples and information technology stocks are edging higher, while financial, mining, healthcare and industrial stocks are mostly trading flat.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 10.9 points or 0.3 percent at 4,341.1. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,364.5, up 11 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank (ANZ) is up nearly 2 percent. Westpac (WBK) is adding nearly a percent and National Australia Bank is up 0.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading flat. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are down marginally.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP, BBL) and Rio Tinto (RIO, RIO.L) are trading lower by 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Treasury Wine Estates is trading higher by over 4 percent. Beach Energy, Fairfax Media and Santos are up 3 to 4 percent.
Perseus Mining, Challenger, Downer EDI, Regis Resources, Bluescope Steel, SP Ausnet, Fortescue Metals and Boart Longyear are all trading higher by 1.2 to 2.5 percent.
Shares of energy infrastructure investor Duet Group are down 2 percent following the company reporting a 62 percent plunge in full year profit. The group's net profit fell to A$47.5 million in the year to June 30, from A$124.9 million the previous year, the company said. It said tax losses to the tune of A$112 million contributed to the drop in earnings.
QBE Insurance Group is down more than 6 percent. Alumina (AWC) is down 3 percent. ASX, Arrium, Whitehaven Coal and Oz Minerals are also trading notably lower.
Meanwhile, the APA Group has again lifted its takeover offer for Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund following the bidding war over the company heating up. The move comes just days after rival Pipeline Partners Australia increased its cash offer for the fund by 10 cents to A$2.43 per security.
APA has announced that it would increase its bid by 18 cents in cash and 0.39 APA securities for each HDF security if it becomes entitled to proceed to compulsory acquisition.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore are trading notably higher. Malaysia and Japan are up marginally, while South Korea is trading weak. Markets across the region had turned in a mixed performance on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher on Thursday after showing a lack of direction early on in the session. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to quarterly results from Cisco as well as remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Despite paring some gains towards the end of the session, the major averages posted solid gains. The Dow rose 85.3 points or 0.7 percent to 13,250.1, the Nasdaq jumped 31.5 points or 1 percent to 3,062.4 and the S&P 500 advanced by about 10 points or 0.7 percent to 1,415.5.
Major European markets too closed higher on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed just above the unchanged line, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index advanced by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended higher on Thursday, extending gains to a third consecutive day. Supply concerns due to tension in the Middle Ease and a weak dollar contributed to oil's rise. Crude for September delivery gained $1.27 or 1.4 percent to close at $95.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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