Australian Market Modestly Higher; Telstra Falls


The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Monday following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday. Mining and oil stocks are higher, while banking stocks are mixed.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 9.10 points or 0.15 percent to 6,125.30, off a high of 6,125.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 10.30 points or 0.17 percent to 6,226.70.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is adding almost 1 percent, Rio Tinto is rising 0.7 percent and Fortescue Metals is higher by 0.5 percent.

Among oil stocks, Santos is rising more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is edging up less than 0.1 percent despite lower crude oil prices Friday.

Gold miners are mixed as gold prices were flat on Friday. Evolution Mining is adding 0.2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is down almost 1 percent.

Banking stocks are also mixed. ANZ Banking is up 0.1 percent and and Westpac is rising 0.6 percent, while National Australia Bank is down 0.2 percent and Commonwealth Bank is declining 0.3 percent.

Commonwealth Bank Chief Financial Officer Rob Jesudason has resigned after less than a year in that position to become chief operating officer of, the company behind the world's fifth biggest cryptocurrency.

Telstra Corp. said it expects full-year earnings to be at the low end of its guidance range and sees challenging conditions continuing in the year ahead. The telecom giant's shares are losing more than 3 percent.

Downer EDI has won an engineering, procurement and construction contract worth about A$150 million from First Solar for a 87 MW Solar Farm in NSW. The company's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

Healthscope has received a takeover bid from Brookfield Asset Management that values the hospital operator at A$4.35 billion. Share of Healthscope are gaining more than 3 percent.

In economic news, Australia will release March numbers for credit card purchases today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7554, up from US$0.7538 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday after initially benefiting from the upward momentum seen in the two previous sessions, but buying interest waned as traders seemed wary of continuing to pick up stocks. Traders were also digesting President Donald Trump's outline of his plan to reduce high drug prices, which he has previously described as a top priority for his administration.

While the Nasdaq edged down 2.09 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 7,402.88, the Dow climbed 91.64 points or 0.4 percent to 24,831.17 and the S&P 500 rose 4.65 points or 0.2 percent to 2,727.72.

The major European markets also turned mixed on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures declined Friday, dropping from 4-year highs amid signs that U.S. production will remain robust. June WTI oil dropped $0.66 or 0.9 percent to settle at $70.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.