By RTT News, October 02, 2013, 10:16:00 PM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - Despite a weak lead from Wall Street where stocks ended lower overnight amid concerns about the U.S. government shutdown and weak private sector jobs data, the Australian stock market is trading higher on Thursday on the back of firm commodity prices.
Besides top mining stocks, financial, telecommunications and consumer staples are trading higher. Energy, healthcare, property trusts and industrial stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 28.7 points or 0.6 percent at 5,244.3. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,241.1, up 26.2 points or 0.5 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac (WBK) are up 0.6 to 1 percent, and National Australia Bank is trading higher by over 2 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are trading modestly higher.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading higher by 1 and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Arrium is up 4.3 percent, while Regis Resources, Newcrest Mining and Iluka Resources are trading higher by 2.3 to 3.6 percent. Treasury Wine Estates, Spark Infrastructure Group, Dexus Property Group, Sims Metal Management and Aristocrat Leisure are up 1.5 to 2 percent.
Fortescue Metals, Bluescope Steel, Henderson Group and Goodman Group are also trading notably higher.
Meanwhile, Leighton Holdings shares are down 8.6 percent on reports of allegedly corrupt practices in the company's overseas operations. David Jones, Monadelphous Group and UGL are down 2 to 3 percent. Twenty-First Century Fox is trading lower by 1.3 percent.
On the economic front, the services sector of Australia's economy contracted further in September, but the pace of contraction slowed significantly, according to survey results released Thursday by the Australian Industry Group. AIG's Performance of Services Index rose to 47.1 from an August reading of 39.0.
The AIG report said the health and community services sub-sector was the only one to rise in September. "Business and consumer confidence appears to have lifted since the Federal election in early September, but benefits in terms of actual sales and activity to date are muted," said AIG Chief Executive Innes Willox.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9385, up 0.3 percent from Wednesday's close of US$0.9352.
On Wall Street, stocks ended in the red on Wednesday despite climbing well off their worst levels of the session. The ongoing government shutdown contributed to the lower close along with disappointing jobs data.
The Dow declined 58.6 points or 0.4 percent to 15,133.1, while the Nasdaq edged down by 3 points or 0.1 percent to 3,815 and the S&P 500 slipped 1.1 points or 0.1 percent to 1,693.9.
Major European markets all moved to the downside on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index slid by 0.4 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index dropped by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil surged to end sharply higher on Wednesday, with investors largely ignoring an Energy Information Administration weekly oil report that showed U.S. crude stockpiles to have jumped more than expected last week.
Crude for November delivery surged $2.06 or 2 percent to close at $104.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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