Australian Market Pares Initial Gains

(RTTNews) - The Australian stock market opened notably higher on Friday following the overnight gains on Wall Street amid the surge in oil prices. However, the market has pared early gains and is now modestly higher. Oil and mining stocks are among the major gainers, while banks are lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 7.30 points or 0.14 percent to 5,161.60, after rising to a high of 5246.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 11.00 points or 0.21 percent to 5,199.70. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is climbing almost 12 percent, Santos is higher by 10 percent and Woodside Petroleum is rising almost 5 percent after crude oil prices soared overnight by 24.7 percent for the biggest one-day percentage gain on record.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining almost 3 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding more than 2 percent as safe-haven gold prices snapped a four-day losing streak and rose almost 3 percent overnight.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is gaining 5 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are advancing almost 3 percent each.

Among the four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.5 percent.

Treasury Wine Estates said it has been sued by Slater + Gordon on behalf of shareholders who bought shares before it revised its guidance in January. However, the wine company's shares are rising more than 3 percent.

On the economic front, the construction sector in Australia continued to contract in March, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed on Friday with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Construction Index score of 37.9. That's down from 42.7 and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It also marks the lowest index reading since May 2013.

Australia will also release February figures for retail sales today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6062, compared to $0.6184 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday due in large part to strength among energy stocks, which moved sharply higher along with the price of crude oil. The jump in oil prices came after President Donald Trump expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia and Russia would resolve their price war within a "few days." Trump also indicated he has invited oil executives to the White House to discuss ways to help the industry, saying, "We don't want to lose our great oil companies."

The Dow surged up 469.93 points or 2.2 percent to 21,413.44, the Nasdaq jumped 126.73 points or 1.7 percent to 7,487.31 and the S&P 500 spiked 56.40 points or 2.3 percent to 2,526.90.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices skyrocketed on Thursday amid hopes the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia would end soon. WTI crude for May delivery soared $5.01 to $25.32 a barrel, soaring by 24.7 percent for the biggest one-day percentage gain on record.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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