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Australian Market Trades Higher

The Australian market is trading modestly higher amid stocks specific activity on Friday, after a slightly weak start. The overnight weak close on Wall Street contributed to the cautious opening in the market.

Consumer discretionary, energy and healthcare stocks are trading higher. Financial, mining and industrial stocks are mixed, while property trusts stocks are mostly down in negative territory.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,928.5 in early trades, is currently up 12.4 points or 0.3 percent at 4,948.1. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 12.2 points or 0.2 percent at 4,968, nearly 20 points off an early low of 4,948.7.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank (ANZ), National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are up 0.6 to 0.8 percent, while National Australia Bank is up marginally. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up with modest gains.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals are up 0.3 to 0.7 percent. Newcrest Mining is trading higher by nearly 4 percent, despite the company reporting a sharp 51 percent decline in first-half profit. However, the company has announced that it expects stronger earnings in the second half.

Among energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum is up 1.4 percent, Santos is trading 1 percent higher and Oil Search is adding 2.5 percent, while Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are down marginally.

News Corp. shares are up nearly 3.5 percent. Tabcorp Holding and Aristocrat Leisure are up 3.2 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

Primary Healthcare, Harvey Norman Holdings and Oil Search are trading higher by 2 to 2.4 percent. CSL, Downer EDI, Oz Minerals, Fairfax Media, PanAust, Monadelphous Group, Lend Lease Group and Arrium are also all trading notably higher.

Westfield Retail Trust, Westfield Group and Challenger are down 2.6 to 3.3 percent, and AGL Energy is down with a loss of 1.6 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weak against the U.S. dollar, hitting a new low in more than three months. In early trades, the Aussie was quoting at US$1.0284, down from Thursday's close of US$1.0330.

On Wall Street, stocks ended with modest losses on Thursday, despite staging a recovery during the later part of the session. The early weakness was partly due to uncertainty about the financial situation in Europe following comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.

The Dow dipped 42.5 points or 0.3 percent to 13,944.1, the Nasdaq edged down 3.4 points or 0.1 percent to 3,165.1 and the S&P 500 slipped 2.7 points or 0.2 percent to 1,509.4.

Major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. While the German DAX index inched up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index ended lower by 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil ended at a two-week low on Thursday, after the dollar made significant gains against a basket of major currencies and the euro taking a tumble after comments by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi following its policy meet.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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