Aust stocks open slightly higher

Local market lifts after easing Ukraine tensions, Yellen optimism buoyed Wall St.

The Australian sharemarket opened higher after Wall Street mostly gained following more conciliatory statements by Russia's president amid the Ukraine crisis and the Federal Reserve chair's Congressional testimony.

At the 10.15am (AEST) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 19.7 points, or 0.36%, at 5,455.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 18.1 points, or 0.33%, to 5,437.2 points.

There was some easing in geopolitical tensions over Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin told pro-Russian rebels fighting in east Ukraine to halt plans for independence referendums.

Investors were also encouraged by Fed Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to congress in which she said the US economy is on track for "solid growth" in the second quarter.

Locally, in economic news on Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases April's labour force figures and March's overseas arrivals and departures numbers.

The West Australian budget will be brought down on Thursday.

In equities news, Wesfarmers chairman Bob Avery is slated to speak at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch in Brisbane.

In Australia, the market on Wednesday followed the global trend and has finished lower, with mining stocks taking the biggest hit.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 45.6 points, or 0.83%, at 5,435.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 43.6 points, or 0.80%, to 5,419.1 points.

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