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Australian Market Trades Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is trading higher on Wednesday, aided by fairly strong gains posted by stocks from the resources sector following a surge in commodity prices. A strong close on Wall Street overnight amid a slew of upbeat earnings reports too is aiding sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which surged to 4,906.2, is currently trading at 4,899, up 10 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 11.4 points or 0.2 percent at 4,922.2, off the day's high of 4,928.6.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP, BBL) is up 1 percent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is adding 1.5 percent and Fortescue Metals is up nearly 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is trading modestly higher.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is up 0.6 percent, Santos is gaining about 1.6 percent and Oil Search is up 3.5 percent, while Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are trading weak, losing 0.4 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are trading modestly higher, while Westpac (WBK) is down marginally. Bank of Queensland is up 2.5 percent and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading modestly higher.

Leighton Holdings is up nearly 5 percent. Lynas Corp. is trading 4.8 percent up. QBE Insurance Group, Iluka Resources, Oz Minerals, Aurora Oil & Gas and Incitec Pivot are up 2 to 4 percent. Sims Metal Management, Toll Holdings and Westfield Retail Trust are also trading notably higher.

Meanwhile, Mirvac Group, Alumina (AWC), Myer Holdings, Aurizon Holdings and Qantas Airways are down 1.5 to 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0466 in early trades, up marginally from Tuesday's close of US$1.0452.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mostly higher on Tuesday, with investors reacting positively to some latest earnings news. The Dow rose 72.5 points or 0.5 percent to 13,954.4, a five-year closing high. The S&P too hit a five-year closing high, finishing up 7.7 points or 0.5 percent, at 1,507.8, while the Nasdaq ended slightly lower at 3,153.7.

Major European markets closed higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC index inched up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil settled at a four-month high on Tuesday, due largely on supply concerns with geo-political tensions in the Middle East threatening to disrupt oil outflow. Crude for March delivery gained $1.13 or 1.2 percent to close at $97.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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