Australian Market Advances


The Australian stock market, which was closed on Friday for the Australia Day holiday, is advancing on Monday, buoyed by the gains on Wall Street and higher crude oil prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 23.20 points or 0.38 percent to 6,073.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 21.90 points or 0.36 percent to 6,186.60.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent, while ANZ Banking is down 0.3 percent.

Commonwealth Bank said it has promoted head of retail banking Matt Comyn to succeed Ian Narev as its chief executive in April.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 1 percent and Santos is up 0.3 percent after crude oil prices rallied to fresh four-year highs Friday.

Meanwhile, the major miners are mostly lower. BHP Billiton is down 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is losing more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is losing more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is declining almost 2 percent after gold prices fell on Friday.

Crown Resorts said it has completed the sale of its stake in a 34.6 acre site in Las Vegas for A$370 milion to a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts. However, the company's shares are lower by 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar edged higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. In early trades, the local unit was quoted at US$0.8110, up from US$0.8105 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, reflecting a positive reaction to earnings news from semiconductor giant Intel and industrial conglomerate Honeywell. On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing slower than expected GDP growth in the fourth quarter, but economists recommended looking past the headline number.

The Dow advanced 223.92 points or 0.9 percent to 26,616.71, the Nasdaq spiked 94.61 points or 1.3 percent to 7,505.77 and the S&P 500 jumped 33.62 points or 1.2 percent to 2,872.87.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices rallied to fresh four-year highs Friday, extending strong weekly gains even as U.S. drillers continued to add rigs. WTI crude rose $0.63 or 1 percent to settle at $66.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.