Aust stocks open higher

The Australian market has opened higher after a strong lead from Wall Street and gains from the mining giants.

CMC Markets chief analyst Ric Spooner said the positive lead from Wall Street had also diluted any concerns over some disappointing data on Chinese manufacturing activity.

He said strong gains from the mining sector had also helped the Australian market get off to a good start.

"It is a pretty solid opening across the board," he said.

"Investors have pushed BHP back over $39, which has obviously helping the market."

Mr Spooner said gains for BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were a delayed reaction to their positive earnings results.

"It often takes quite a long time for investors to adjust portfolios," he said.

BHP Billiton jumped 58 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $39.28 and Rio Tinto surged 69 cents, or 0.99 per cent, to $70.28.

But investors punished National Australia Bank after it said its first quarter cash profit had lifted seven per cent to $1.55 billion, and its net profit, which includes one-off items, was about $1.4 billion, the bank said.

Its shares fell 84 cents, or 2.39 per cent, to $34.32.

However, the other major banks all made early gains.

Commonwealth Bank surged 39.5 cents, or 0.53 per cent, to $74.995, ANZ jumped 28 cents, or 0.89 per cent, to $31.88 and Westpac added 24 cents, or 0.73 per cent, to $33.34.

At Thursday's closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 92.67 points at 16,133.23 and the broad-based S&P 500 had gained 11.03 points to 1,839.78, some eight points shy of its record high in mid-January. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index had added 29.59 points to 4,267.55.


* At 1023 AEDT on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 33.3 points, or 0.62 per cent, at 5,445.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 32.5 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 5,453.8 points.

* The March share price index futures contract was up 31 points at 5,412 points, with 9,403 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 261.9 million securities worth $544.7 million.

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