Mining, energy lift Aust market higher

Prashant Mehra
(Australian Associated Press)

The Australian share market is in positive territory in early trade, as investors focus on a bounce in commodities prices, despite a tepid session on Wall street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.3 per cent after the first half-hour of trade, with materials and energy stocks the mainstay.

“The drivers are mostly materials and energy sectors, which also got a boost overnight in the US and European markets,” Patersons strategist Tony Farnham said.

Overnight, oil prices surged to a near one-month high, supported by an unplanned production outage in the North Sea, while most base and precious metals also ended higher.

US. stocks limped higher, with investors staying on the sidelines ahead of the first-quarter earnings season and fretting about President Donald Trump’s ability to deliver on tax reform and other promises.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.19 per cent, and the S&P 500 gained 0.06 per cent.

In the local market, energy shares led gains with Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search all trading more than one per cent higher.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue were up between two and three per cent.

Financial stocks were mixed, with two of the big four banks trading in the red.

Fairfax Media shares were up 0.8 per cent at $1.05 after the company announced a major structural change in its editorial division that it expects will deliver about $30 million in annual savings.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is again treading water after falling to a three-week low following the Reserve Bank of Australia’s announcement it was keeping its cash rate on hold.

The local currency was trading at 75.71 US cents at 1040 AEST on Wednesday, from 75.68 on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* At 1040 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 16.3 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5,872.9 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 15.9 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 5,911.7 points.

* The June SPI200 futures contract was up 16 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 5,860 points.

* National turnover was 639 million securities traded worth $989 million.

CURRENCY UPDATE:

* The Australian dollar was trading at 75.71 US cents at 1040 AEST, up from 75.68 US cents on Tuesday.

(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)

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