Australian Market Rises For Fifth Day

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The Australian stock market is rising for a fifth straight day on Friday, following the overnight gains on Wall Street as tepid inflation data eased worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve might increase the pace of interest rate hikes. In addition, higher commodity prices lifted mining and oil stocks.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 18.10 points or 0.30 percent to 6,136.80, off a high of 6,140.90. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 17.70 points or 0.28 percent to 6,233.60.

In the mining sector, Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 1 percent, BHP Billiton is adding 1 percent and Rio Tinto is rising more than 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is adding 0.3 percent and Newcrest Mining is up 0.5 percent as gold prices edged up.

Among oil stocks, Santos is up 0.2 percent, Oil Search is adding 0.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Meanwhile, banking stocks are mixed. ANZ Banking is advancing 0.5 percent and Westpac is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is lower by 0.3 percent.

GrainCorp reported a 60 percent fall in its half-year profit on lower crop production in eastern Australia, but affirmed its full-year earnings outlook. The grain handler's shares are losing almost 1 percent.

Shares of Caltex Australia are rising almost 1 percent after the service station group reported a 6 percent increase in first-quarter profit.

In economic news, Australia will release March figures for home loans today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday as the greenback weakened following the release of U.S. inflation data. The local unit was trading at US$0.7527, up from US$0.7469 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks extended gains on Thursday from the previous session following the release of a Labor Department report showing a slightly smaller than expected increase in consumer prices in the month of April. A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims unexpectedly came in unchanged in the week ended May 5th.

The Dow climbed 196.99 points or 0.8 percent to 24,739.53, the Nasdaq jumped 65.07 points or 0.9 percent to 7,404.98 and the S&P 500 advanced 25.28 points or 0.9 percent to 2,723.07.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures edged higher on Thursday, holding most of their recent gains after subdued U.S. inflation data. WTI light sweet crude oil added $0.22 to close at $71.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.