Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Thursday after a two-day Christmas break, buoyed by the overnight rally on Wall Street and the sharp rebound in crude oil prices. Stocks are gaining across the board.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 60.00 points or 1.09 percent to 5,553.80, after touching a high of 5,578.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 60.70 points or 1.09 percent to 5,620.30. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Monday as markets closed early for the Christmas holidays.

Oil stocks are notably higher after crude oil prices surged more than 8 percent overnight. Oil Search is advancing more than 2 percent, Santos is gaining almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by more than 3 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and BHP Group is rising almost 3 percent.

Gold miners are also gaining after gold prices edged higher overnight. Evolution Mining is higher by more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7070, up from $0.7062 on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks rebounded strongly on Wednesday reflecting gains in retail and energy shares. Positive sentiment may have been generated by members of President Donald Trump's administration continuing to downplay reports the President has privately discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The Dow soared 1,086.25 or 5 percent to 22,878.45, the Nasdaq spiked 361.44 points or 5.8 percent to 6,554.36 and the S&P 500 surged up 116.60 points or 5 percent to 2,467.70.

The major European markets remained closed on Wednesday for the Boxing Day holiday.

Crude oil prices rose sharply amid thin deals on Wednesday, rebounding from a 6.7 percent plunge on Christmas Eve. WTI crude for February rose $3.69 or 8.7 percent to close at $46.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, recording their biggest single session gain in several months.

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