Australian Market Notably Higher

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( - The Australian stock market is notably higher on Thursday, with stocks gaining across the board following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and as higher commodity prices lifted resources stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 65.30 points or 1.17 percent to 5,623.10, after touching a high of 5,644.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 62.00 points or 1.10 percent to 5,687.60. Australian stocks ended sharply lower on Wednesday after a late-afternoon slide.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 0.5 percent to 1.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.1 percent.

Insurance Australia Group's shares are up almost 1 percent after the company increased reinsurance program for catastrophes by A$1 billion to A$9 billion for 2019.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is advancing 1 percent, BHP Group is adding 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is edging up 0.1 percent.

Shares of Pilbara Minerals are rising almost 12 percent after the company said it has secured funding for an expansion of its Pilgangoora lithium mine.

Oil stocks are gaining after crude oil prices rose more than 2 percent overnight. Oil Search is adding more than 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 3 percent and Santos is higher by almost 4 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing 3 percent after gold prices rose to six-month highs overnight.

Meanwhile, shares of outdoor retailer Kathmandu Holdings are falling more than 14 percent after the company lowered its profit outlook for the first half of the year following a poor Christmas and Boxing Day sales period.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar briefly fell more than 3 percent to its lowest levels in ten years against the U.S. dollar on Thursday before rebounding, as currency markets experienced a flash crash. The local currency was quoted at $0.6902 in late-morning trades, while it was trading just above $0.70 on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday after recovering from an initial move to the downside amid lingering concerns about the outlook for to the global economy following the release of a report showing a contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity in the month of December. Selling pressure waned shortly after the start of trading, however, inspiring some traders to pick up stocks at reduced levels following the steep losses posted last year.

The Dow edged up 18.78 points or 0.1 percent to 23,346.24, the Nasdaq climbed 30.66 points or 0.5 percent to 6,665.94 and the S&P 500 inched up 3.18 points or 0.1 percent to 2,510.03.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index edged up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures rose to a two-week high on Wednesday. WTI crude for February delivery jumped $1.13 or 2.5 percent to $46.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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