Aust stocks open higher

The Australian market has opened higher after gains in Europe overnight and positive economic data out of Japan.

With US markets closed for the Labor Day holiday, European shares were in the spotlight with markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris all gaining more than half a per cent.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the gains had helped boost Australian shares, along with better-than-expected economic figures out of Japan on Tuesday morning.

Official data showed that Japan's economy contracted by a smaller-than-expected 0.3 per cent during the April-June quarter.

"That might be helping the region somewhat today," he said.

Energy stocks were in focus after Woodside confirmed speculation that it might make a play for Papua New Guinea-focused oil and gas player Oil Search.

Woodside said it has made a non-binding proposal to acquire all shares in Papua New Guinea-focused oil and gas player Oil Search.

Woodside, which has been keen to make acquisitions, has offered one of its shares for every four shares in Oil Search in an all-scrip deal.

Oil prices have slid amid market volatility, as investors assessed the outlook for US interest rates.

Woodside and Oil Search were both in temporary trading halts, with their shares due to resume trading by 1130 AEST.

Other resource stocks were higher despite a further slide in oil prices overnight.

BHP Billiton was 26 cents stronger at $24.45 while Rio Tinto added 71 cents to $49.86 and Origin Energy climbed 39 cents to $7.87.

The big banks were stronger, with Comm Bank up 70 cents at $73.03, Westpac added 50.5 cents to $30.305, National Australia Bank climbed 38 cents to $29.99 and ANZ rose 45 cents to $27.16.

Retail stocks were mixed after the latest ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly index revealed a sharp fall in consumer confidence.

Woolworths dropped 11 cents to $25.21, while Myer was steady at 93 cents, JB Hi-Fi rose 22 cents to $18.34 and Wesfarmers rose 11 cents to $39.50.


* At 1037 AEST on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 44 points points, or 0.87 per cent, at 5,074.4 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 42.5 points, or 0.84 per cent, at 5,093.5 points.

* September share price index futures contract was up 40 points at 5,062 points, with 8,408 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 392.9 million securities worth $589.1 million.

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