Aust stocks strengthen at open

By a staff reporter

The Australian stock market strengthened at the open after encouraging jobs data in the United States helped Wall Street post its longest winning streak in more than 16 years overnight.

At the 1015 AEDT official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.67 per cent to 5,065.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries lifted 0.62 per cent to 5,074.9.

IG analyst Evan Lucas said the only risk assets likely to see a bounce today were in the energy sector.

"As it is the end of the week, position reassessment will be in order, and after three days on the slide do not be surprised to see the Aussie market making it four in a row as investors cash out winning positions," he said.

Financial stocks led the market, as the big banks made solid gains.

ANZ Banking Group rose 0.85 per cent to $28.42, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 0.96 per cent to $69.54.

National Australia Bank accelerated 0.75 per cent to $30.92 and Westpac added 1.03 per cent to $30.44.

Westpac chairman Lindsay Maxsted has called for a debate on alternative funding for banks.

Investment bank Macquarie Group climbed 1.12 per cent to $37.85.

Deloitte has been brought in to assess the risk culture within Macquarie Group's private wealth unit as part of Macquarie's efforts to bolster its compliance practices.

In the insurance sector, Insurance Australia Group rose 1.42 per cent to $5.71.

QBE added 1.7 per cent to $13.475, while Suncorp Group grew 1.42 per cent to $11.785.

Resources stocks were mixed at the open.

BHP Billiton rose 0.11 per cent to $35.13, while rival Rio Tinto lost 0.48 per cent $60.41.

Fortescue Metals shed 1.01 per cent to $3.93.

Whitehaven Coal climbed 1.3 per cent to $2.34, while Newcrest added 0.55 per cent to $21.97.

In crude stocks, Woodside inclined 0.69 per cent to $36.49.

Oil Search rose 0.78 per cent up at $7.80, and Santos lost 0.08 per cent to $12.92.

Media stocks were mixed, after communications minister Stephen Conroy dismissed complaints over the government's media reforms.

Fairfax Media added 1.57 per cent to 64.5 cents, while rival News gained 0.54 per cent to $29.73.

Seven West rose 0.43 per cent to $2.34, while rival Ten gained 1.45 per cent to 35 cents. 

Southern Cross Media climbed 1.92 per cent higher to $1.595. 

Retail stocks were also mixed at the open.

Wesfarmers climbed 1.12 per cent to $42.55, while Woolworths added 1.45 per cent to $35.63.

Myer fell 0.65 per cent to $3.05, and rival David Jones added 0.67 per cent $2.99. 

Harvey Norman rose 1.81 per cent to $2.81, while JB Hi-Fi advanced 2.29 per cent to $15.19.

Blue chip Qantas jumped 0.73 per cent to $1.7275, while Telstra lost 0.11 per cent to $4.475.

Qantas domestic chief executive Lyell Strambi plans to add two planes for each one competitor Virgin Australia adds to its fleet.

Stockland advanced 2.4 per cent to $3.84, after the group announced a $115 million redevelopment of its Hervey Bay Shopping Centre in Queensland.

There is no economic data scheduled for release in the day ahead.

The market closed the previous session lower as better than expected jobs data dented the chance of more interest rate cuts.

The S&P/ASX200 index lost 60.2 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 5,032.2 and the All Ordinaries dropped 60.6 points, also 1.2 per cent, to 5,043.8.