Stocks in the US finished on a positive note on Friday following better than expected housing data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 44.50 points to finish at 16,491.31. The S&P500 gained 7.01 points to end at 1,877.86 and the Nasdaq added 21.30 points to close at 4,090.59.
Housing starts jumped 13.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 1.07 million units, according to the Commerce Department. The reading was the best since November 2013 and building permits hit their highest level since 2008.
Meanwhile, consumer sentiment slipped to 81.8 in May, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's preliminary reading. The reading was down from 84.1 from the month before and was also below the expectation of 84.5 among economists polled by Reuters.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said he sees inflation picking up in the near future and approach the central bank's 2-per cent target. He added that he considers the neutral Fed funds rate to be 4 per cent, factoring in 2 per cent inflation.
In commodity markets, oil prices moved modestly higher with the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in June, closing at $US102.02 a barrel on Friday. Brent North Sea crude for July rose 66 cents to settle at $US109.75 a barrel in London.
Gold prices edged lower after strong US housing data bolstered the case for a resurgent economic recovery. Gold for May delivery eased 20 cents to $US1,293.30 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold for June delivery, the most actively traded contract, also fell 20 cents, ending at $US1,293.40 a troy ounce.
On the London Metals Exchange, nickel prices climbed as bargain hunters stepped in to buy the metal following a recent 10 per cent drop in price. Nickel for delivery in three months rose 1.6 per cent to settle at $US19,025 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange.
Copper for July delivery closed at $US3.1470 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, up less than 0.1 per cent.
The Australian dollar is higher but remains below 94 US cents after a quiet overseas trade. At 0700 AEST on Monday, the local unit was trading at 93.74 US cents, up from 93.48 cents on Friday.
In local economic news on Monday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases international merchandise imports data for April and in the US, no major economic data is expected.
In company news, Leighton (LEI) holds its annual general meeting, while agribusiness Elders (ELD) and paint and home renovation group Dulux Group (DLX) release half year financial results.
The market on Friday fell, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropping 31.8 points to 5,479 and the broader All Ordinaries index shedding 31.3 points to 5,458.9.