Aust stocks edge higher at open

Local market pushes upward in early trade on solid Wall Street leads.

The Australian sharemarket pushed higher at the open, following solid gains on Wall Street overnight, buoyed by a batch of data that reinforced optimism that the US economy is recovering.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 12.1 points, or 0.23%, to 5,306.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 11.3 points, or 0.21%, to 5,324 points.

A measure of the US economy's health rose in February by the largest amount in three months, suggesting growth should rebound following a severe winter.

The Conference Board's index of leading indicators increased 0.5% following a slight 0.1% rise in January and a 0.1% decline in December. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said separately that manufacturing rebounded in that region in March as new orders increased.

The number of people seeking US unemployment benefits rose 5,000 last week to a seasonally-adjusted 320,000, the Labor Department said. That's close to pre-recession levels and suggests a stable job market.

Locally, no major economic or equities news is expected on Friday.

The Australian market on Thursday more than one per cent on the prospect of higher interest rates in the US after Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said a rate hike may begin "around six months" after the Fed's stimulus program ends.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 61.6 points, or 1.15%, to 5,294 points.

The broader All Ordinaries index shed 60.3 points, or 1.12%, to 5,312.7.

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