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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Friday with broad-based gains across all sectors, following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and higher commodity prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 42.10 points or 0.74 percent to 5,693.90, off a high of 5698.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 41.20 points or 0.72 percent to 5,761.50.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is advancing almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is rising more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are also advancing despite gold prices edging lower overnight. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are up more than 1 percent each.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank - are higher in a range of 1 percent to 1.3 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are rising more than 1 percent each, while Santos is higher by almost 2 percent after crude oil prices rebounded to above $50 a barrel overnight.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in September, albeit at a slower pace, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 54.7.

That's down from 55.3 in August, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction for the eighth straight month.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is sharply lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday as the greenback rallied on strong U.S. economic data. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7790, down from US$0.7827 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed at new record highs on Thursday, benefiting from a batch of largely upbeat U.S. economic data as well as optimism about the outlook for tax reform. Positive sentiment was generated by news the House approved a $4.1 trillion budget resolution, taking a key step in efforts to pass their tax reform plan.

The Dow rose 113.75 points or 0.5 percent to 22,775.39, the Nasdaq advanced 50.73 points or 0.8 percent to 6,585.36 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.33 points or 0.6 percent to 2,552.07.

European stocks also moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, although the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line.

Crude oil futures rose on Thursday amid signs Saudi Arabia and Russia will agree to extend output cuts through next year. WTI crude gained $0.81 or 1.6 percent to settle at $50.79 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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