The Australian stock market is edging higher on Thursday with investors tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and indulging in some buying in several blue chip stocks from across various sectors.
Financial, healthcare and consumer staples stocks are among the notable gainers. A few stocks from mining and energy sectors are also trading firm.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 19.6 points or 0.4 percent at 4,466.9. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,480, up 17.4 points or 0.4 percent from its previous close.
Key bank stocks ANZ Bank (ANZ), Westpac (WBK), Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are trading higher by 0.4 to 1 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Top miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are up 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Aristocrat Leisure is trading higher by over 6 percent. James Hardie Industries, Boart Longyear, Arrium, Fairfax Media and Paladin Energy are up 3 to 4 percent.
Boral, News Corporation, Duet Group, Alumina (AWC), Challenger, Dexus Property Group, Investa Office Fund, Leighton Holdings and Incitec Pivot are trading higher by 1 to 2.2 percent.
Among the notable losers, Regis Resources is down more than 4 percent and ALS is down by about 2.6 percent. Iluka Resources, Aurora Oil & Gas and Primary Healthcare are trading lower by 1.4 to 1.6 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0476 in early trades, up from Wednesday's close of US$1.0448.
On the economic front, new home sales in Australia increased in October, according to survey results released Thursday by the Housing Industry Association. The HIA index showed home sales increased 3.4 percent from September. The increase included a large rise in apartment sales, the survey said.
HIA Chief Economist Harley Dale said the fate of the housing sector recovery rests largely with the Reserve Bank of Australia, which holds a monetary policy meeting next week.
"Further action on rates next week would bolster the chances that we see a sustained recovery in new home building in 2013," said Dale. "Right now the jury is still out on that."
Meanwhile, private capital expenditure was up a seasonally adjusted 2.8 percent at A$42.475 billion in the third quarter of 2012 compared to the previous three months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. That beat forecasts for an increase of 2.0 percent following the 3.4 percent gain in the second quarter. On a yearly basis, capex was up 14.2 percent.
Capex for building and structures came in at A$26.718 billion, up 1.0 percent on quarter and 20.1 percent on year.
Spending for equipment, plants and machinery was at A$15.756 billion, rising 6.2 percent on quarter and 5.3 percent on year.
On Wall Street, stocks rebounded after early weakness and ended with notable gains on Wednesday, amid optimism about the U.S. potentially avoiding the looming fiscal cliff.
The major averages ended the session near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 107 points or 0.8 percent to 12,985.1, the Nasdaq rose 24 points or 0.8 percent to 2,991.8 and the S&P 500 advanced 11 points or 0.8 percent to 1,409.9.
Major European markets too closed higher on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 index gained 0.4 percent, the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil pared losses but still ended lower on Wednesday, extending losses to a third straight day, on demand concerns. Crude for January delivery ended down $0.69 or 0.8 percent at $86.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching an intraday low of $85.36.
by RTT Staff Writer
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