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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is higher on Friday amid a broad-based rally, tracking the gains on Wall Street overnight where the Nasdaq Index set a new record closing high. In addition, higher commodity prices lifted resource stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is up 62.70 points or 1.07 percent to 5,907.50, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 62 points or 1.07 percent to 5,882.30.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton (BHP) is gaining almost 3 percent and Rio Tinto (RIO) is advancing more than 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals climbed more than 5 percent amid higher iron ore prices. BC Iron is higher by more than 15 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is higher by more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is edging up 0.5 percent after gold prices rose from a three-week low overnight.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent, Oil Search is up almost 2 percent and Santos is advancing more than 2 percent on the back of higher crude oil prices overnight.

Among the major banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are higher in a range of 0.7 percent to more than 1 percent.

Xero, a cloud-based accounting software provider, reported a full-year loss that widened despite a surge in revenue. Shares of the New Zealand-based company are down more than 9 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar, which fell on the back of some disappointing U.S. economic data. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7778, up from Thursday's close of US$0.7728.

On Wall Street, stocks once again shrugged off some early volatility to close higher on Thursday, partly reflecting a positive reaction to the latest batch of earnings news from big-name companies. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session at a new record closing high.

While the Nasdaq rose 20.89 points or 0.4 percent to 5,056.06, the Dow inched up 20.42 points or 0.1 percent to 18,058.69 and the S&P 500 edged up 4.97 points or 0.2 percent to 2,112.93.

The major European markets closed mixed on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dropped by 0.6 percent and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.2 percent.

U.S. crude oil surged to end sharply higher on Thursday, after the dollar weakened against a basket of few select currencies on some soft economic data from the U.S. Crude prices were also impacted after renewed violence was reported in Yemen, where a proxy fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia threatens to destabilize the region.

Crude Oil futures for June delivery, the most actively traded contract, soared $1.58 or 2.8 percent to settle at $57.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday.

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