Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday following the overnight gains on Wall Street after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to support a short-term measure that would raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for three months.
Nevertheless, investors are cautious as they await the European Central Bank’s monetary policy announcement later in the day. The ECB is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged and maintain its asset purchase program.
The Australian market is rebounding following the positive lead from Wall Street and higher crude oil prices.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 21.00 points or 0.37 percent to 5,710.70, off a high of 5,718.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 20.80 points or 0.36 percent to 5,773.70.
In the mining space, BHP Billiton is declining more than 1 percent after it turned ex-dividend, while Rio Tinto is rising more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding almost 1 percent.
Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices extended gains overnight. Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.4 percent, Santos is up 0.5 percent and Oil Search is advancing more than 1 percent.
In the banking sector, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are advancing in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent, while ANZ Banking is losing 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, gold miners are weak after gold prices dipped overnight as risk aversion eased. Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.6 percent.
Sigma Healthcare reported a 17.4 percent increase in its half-year net profit despite lower sales and said that the outlook for fiscal 2019 is more positive. Shares of the pharmacies and drug supplier are rising almost 3 percent.
In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in August, although at a slower pace, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 55.3. That’s down from 60.5 in July, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia had a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$460 million in July. That missed forecasts for a surplus of A$1.000 billion following the upwardly revised A$888 million surplus in June.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also said that the total value of retail sales in Australia came in roughly unchanged…