Australian Market Significantly Higher

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 below the 7,400 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, led by gains in the materials, financial and energy sector as iron ore and crude oil prices rose sharply, even as traders remain concerned about the domestic coronavirus situation, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, which is hindering economic activity.

NSW has reported 1,063 new local cases of COVID-19 and six deaths on Wednesday, with Melbourne and Sydney, two of the largest cities, and some regional areas still under tougher restrictions and lockdowns. Victoria recorded 766 new locally acquired cases and four deaths, with active cases now totalling 6,666 across the state.

Traders also reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement and comments. The Fed hinted at scaling back its asset purchases in the near future and raising interest rate by the end of 2022.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 70.60 points or 0.97 percent to 7,367.50, after touching a high of 7,371.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 77.60 points or 1.02 percent to 7,671.40. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is edging up 0.4 percent, Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 3 percent and Mineral Resources is adding almost 3 percent, while BHP Group is edging down 0.3 percent.
OZ Minerals is flat.

Oil stocks are higher. Beach Energy is gaining more than 3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy are adding 1.5 percent each. Oil Search and Santos are up almost 3 percent each.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is gaining more than 1 percent, while Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are adding almost 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Xero is gaining almost 2 percent, Afterpay is adding almost 4 percent, WiseTech Global is up almost 3 percent and Appen is edging up 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining is losing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is down almost 1 percent, while Northern Star Resources and Gold Road Resources are declining almost 2 percent each. Resolute Mining is flat.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in September, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed on Thursday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 57.3. That's up from 52.0 in August and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services index improved to 44.9 in September from 42.9 in August. The composite index also improved, rising from 43.3 to 46.0.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.723 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher during trading on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve's highly anticipated monetary policy announcement. The major averages remained firmly positive on the heels of the Fed announcement after showing a strong move to the upside in morning trading.

The major averages all posted strong gains on the day. The Dow jumped 338.48 points or 1 percent at 34,258.32, the Nasdaq surged up 150.45 points or 1 percent to 14,896.85 and the S&P 500 shot up 41.45 points or 1 percent to 4,395.64.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices climbed on Wednesday after data showed a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for November ended up $1.74 or 2.5 percent at $72.23 a barrel.

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