20 Oct 2008

Australian stocks open over 2% higher

12:55 pm on 20 October 2008

The Australian share market has opened over 2% higher, despite a weak lead from Wall Street on Friday.

At 1015 AEDT on Monday, the S&P/ASX200 was up 88.3 points, or 2.22%, at 4,059.1, while the All Ordinaries added 80.4 points, or 2.04%, to 4,025.2.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the December share price index futures contract was 51 points higher at 4,102, on a volume of 6,641 contracts.

BHP Billiton picked up $A1.01, or 4.11%, to $A25.60, while Rio Tinto gained $A3.36, or 5.37%, to $A65.98.

Banking stocks also were higher. National Australia Bank lifted 90 cents, or 4.17%, to $A22.50; Commonwealth Bank added 79 cents, or 1.91%; to $A42.20 and ANZ Banking Group increased 53 cents to $A17.38.

Westpac was up 82 cents, or 3.82%, to $A22.30 and St George Bank was 62 cents higher at $A29.06.

Investment firm Macquarie Group added 93 cents, or 2.97%, to $A32.29 and Babcock & Brown increased 9.5 cents, or 7.22%, to $A1.41.

Other markets

Stocks in the United States lost ground again on Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of the weekend.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 127.04 points, or 1.41%, settling at 8,852.22.

The Nasdaq composite lost 6.42 points, or 0.37%, to 1,711.29. Standard & Poor's 500 dropped 5.88 points, 0.62%, to close at 940.55.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed up 4.2% at 894.77 points. The index has lost 39.9% to date this year.