Finance Finance News Australian shares follow modest gains on US markets

Australian shares follow modest gains on US markets

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The Australian share market is edging higher on modest volumes, as some traders return from their Easter break.

Following on from Wall Street’s fifth straight day of gains, the local share market had advanced 0.4 per cent in early trade, with the ASX 200 up 21 points to 5,476 and the All Ordinaries index up 19 points to 5,464 around 11:00am (AEST).

The major banks were driving much of the market’s rise, with ANZ’s 0.9 per cent increase leading and the other three big banks between 0.4-0.7 per cent higher.

The retail sector was mixed, with the two major supermarket owners, Woolworths and Wesfarmers, up around 0.5 per cent, as was electronics and furniture seller Harvey Norman.

However, JB Hi-Fi and Myer were both losing a little ground early on.

The major miners were also dragging on the market’s overall gains, with Rio Tinto down 0.9 per cent, Fortescue easing 0.4 per cent and BHP Billiton off just 3 cents to $38.07.

Casino operator Crown was off 0.5 per cent to $16.315 after reports in the Fairfax press that it is likely to lodge an expression of interest to buy a loss-making hotel and casino in Las Vegas, which expected to sell for between $US1.5-2 billion.

The Australian dollar has regained some ground after easing on comments from the Chinese premier indicating that no stimulus would be forthcoming for minor misses of China’s 7.5 per cent growth target.

The local currency was buying 93.34 US cents, 67.68 euro cents and 95.8 Japanese yen.