Australian Market Advances

( - The Australian stock market is advancing on Friday following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street and on higher commodity prices. Stocks are gaining across the board.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 59.70 points or 0.99 percent to 6,076.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 57.60 points or 0.94 percent to 6,187.20.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to 1.3 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent and BHP Billiton is adding 0.5 percent following a surge in iron ore prices, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.1 percent.

BHP Billiton said it will spend A$3.9 billion to develop its majority-owned South Flank iron ore mine in the central Pilbara, creating more than 600 permanent jobs.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 2 percent after gold prices rose to a one-month high.

Oil stocks are also higher after an increase in crude oil prices. Santos is gaining almost 2 percent, while Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are rising more than 1 percent each.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7465, down from US$0.7553 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Thursday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbing to a new record closing high on continued strength in media stocks, and the narrower Dow closing lower for the third straight day after a notable decline by shares of industrial conglomerate General Electric.

21st Century Fox's shares rose after Comcast announced a $65 billion bid for most of the company's media assets, igniting a potential bidding war with Disney. GE CEO John Flannery told French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire the company's commitment to create 1,000 jobs by the end of 2018 as part of its acquisition of Alstom's energy business is now out of reach.

The Nasdaq advanced 65.34 points or 0.9 percent to 7,761.04 and the S&P 500 rose 6.86 points or 0.3 percent to 2,782.49, while the Dow edged down 25.89 points or 0.1 percent at 25,175.31.

The major European markets moved significantly higher on Thursday after the European Central Bank indicated plans to wind down its bond buying program and pledged to keep interest rates on hold for at least a year.

While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures rose Thursday, settling at a 2-week high despite rumors that OPEC will ramp up production. WTI crude added $0.25 to close at $66.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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