Aust stocks edge higher at open

Local market pushes upward in early trade after a quiet Wall St session.

By a staff reporter

The Australian stock market edged higher at the open, following a lacklustre performance on Wall Street overnight.

At the 1015 AEDT official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.23 per cent to 5.336.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index increased 0.21 per cent to 5,338.8.

Materials were lower, with the major miners posting steep losses.

BHP Billiton declined 0.67 per cent to $37.31, while rival Rio Tinto lost 1.61 per cent to $66.66.

Fortescue Metals slipped 0.96 per cent to $5.655 and Newcrest fell 0.93 per cent to $8.54.

Whitehaven Coal retreated 0.26 per cent to $1.905, while Santos inclined 0.07 per cent to $14.34.

Oil Search increased 0.37 per cent to $8.06 and Woodside Petroleum fell 0.11 per cent to $37.66.

Financials were broadly stronger.

ANZ rallied 0.31 per cent to $32.09, while Commonwealth Bank rose 0.14 per cent to $77.71.

National Australia Bank added 0.43 per cent to $34.70, while Westpac increased 0.65 per cent to $32.33.

Investment bank Macquarie Group declined 0.38 per cent to $54.93.

In insurance, IAG rose 0.7 per cent to $5.78, while Suncorp rallied 0.27 per cent to $13.085. QBE added 1.1 per cent to $11.86.

The retail sector was also broadly higher.

Woolworths rose 0.4 per cent to $33.935, while Wesfarmers inclined 1.4 per cent to $44.24.

Myer opened flat at $2.73, while rival David Jones was flat at $2.98.

Harvey Norman was flat at $3.20, while JB Hi-Fi inched up 0.19 per cent to $21.49.

In media, Fairfax Media was flat at 65 cents, 21st Century Fox retreated 0.26 per cent to $38.27 and News Corp fell 1.39 per cent to $19.52.

Ten Network fell 1.61 per cent to 30.5 cents, while Seven West added 0.86 per cent to $2.35 and Southern Cross Media inclined 0.6 per cent to $1.69.

Telstra rose 0.28 per cent to $5.285, while Qantas lifted 0.92 per cent to $1.10.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the move higher at the open was unexpected given the tone on global markets during the past 24 hours.

Wall Street finished lower overnight, with the Dow Jones down 44 points to 16,425.

Paris' CAC 40 was also down while Germany's DAX 30 and London's FTSE 100 were both relatively flat.

"It is surprising, I would have thought we would have opened lower but the market has shown itself to be quite resilient," he said.

"Clearly investor confidence in the market remains."

In local economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release international trade figures for November.

The Australian share market on Monday lost ground in quiet trade as investors waited for direction from European and US markets.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 25.2 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 5.324.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 24.1 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 5,327.7.