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US gains flow through to Aust shares


Australian shares have opened higher thanks to support from industrial commodities and after US stock indexes received a boost from jobs data which relieved fears of inflation and aggressive interest rate hikes.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.9 per cent after the first half-hour of trade on Monday, with all sectors, bar property trust stocks, trading higher.

In the US on Friday, the major stocks indexes all climbed almost two per cent after data showed the number of jobs added to the US economy jumped by 313,000 in February - its biggest increase in more than one-and-a-half years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.8 per cent to close at 25,335.74, the S&P 500 gained 1.7 per cent to 2,786.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 1.8 per cent to 7,560.81.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy said the US jobs data had "hit a sweet spot" and were a key driver in the Australian market on Monday morning.

"And at the same time, we saw pressure on wages moderate so we have one of those goldilocks moments in the market at the moment where growth is strong but the inflation is not a concern," Mr McCarthy said.

"But not only that we saw strong gains in industrial commodities so we have double support for the Australian share market this morning."

Locally, energy stocks led the gains after oil prices rose nearly $2 on Friday, rebounding from two days of declines.

Woodside Petroleum rose 2.2 per cent to $29.22, Santos Oil lifted one per cent to $4.94 and Oil Search was trading 1.4 per cent higher to $7.18.

The big four banks all rose, with ANZ leading the pack, and mining stocks started the day stronger with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals trading between 0.95 per cent and 2.7 per cent higher.

But Newcrest Mining fell 5.2 per cent to $20.475 after it announced it will take a financial hit from the dam wall breach at its NSW goldmine but said it is still too early to say how much it will be.

In other company news, shares in McGrath sank 2.3 per cent to 42 cents after the embattled property group cut its full year earnings guidance, saying the impact of reduced sales volumes has affected the company more significantly than previously contemplated.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is higher, despite strength in the US dollar, thanks to support from industrial commodities with all metals but tin rising on Friday.

At 1030 AEDT on Monday, the local currency was worth 78.60 US cents, up from 77.95 US cents on Friday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 52.1 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 6,015.3 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 50.8 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 6,119.9 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 52 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 6,015 points

* National turnover was 604.3 million securities traded worth $581.8 million