The Australian stock market is advancing on Friday following the modest gains overnight on Wall Street after the release of a mixed batch of U.S. economic data and on higher commodity prices.
Investor sentiment also received a boost on news that Australia’s three major states – New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria – plan to further ease coronavirus restrictions as infection rates continue to fall.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 67.80 points or 1.15 percent to 5,943.70, after touching a high of 5,947.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 63.50 points or 1.05 percent to 6,120.00. Australian stocks closed lower on Thursday.
The big four banks are notably higher. Westpac is climbing almost 6 percent, National Australia Bank is gaining almost 5 percent, ANZ Banking is rising more than 4 percent and Commonwealth Bank is advancing more than 2 percent.
In the heavyweight mining sector, Rio Tinto is rising almost 2 percent, while BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are adding more than 1 percent each.
Gold miners are also rising after gold prices snapped a three-day losing streak to close higher overnight. Evolution Mining is higher by more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 2 percent.
Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum is adding almost 1 percent and Oil Search is up 0.2 percent, while Santos is unchanged after crude oil prices advanced almost 1 percent overnight.
On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday in choppy trading following the release of a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, which added to recent uncertainty about the economic outlook. The Labor Department released a report showing an unexpected uptick in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended September 19, while the Commerce Department released a separate report unexpectedly showing another significant increase in new home sales in the U.S. in the month of August.
The Dow fell as much as 226 points and jumped as much as 331 points before ending the day up 52.31 points or 0.2 percent at 26,815.44. The Nasdaq climbed 39.28 points or 0.4 percent to 10,672.27 and the S&P 500 rose 9.67 points or 0.3 percent at 3,246.59.
The major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.8 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.3 percent.
Crude oil prices rose on Thursday despite lingering worries about the energy demand outlook in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases and fresh lockdown measures in several parts across Europe. WTI crude for November ended up $0.38 or almost 1 percent at $40.31 a barrel.
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