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Australian stocks open higher; S&P 200 increases 6.5pts

Australian stocks open higher; S&P 200 increases 6.5pts

SYDNEY: The Australian stocks opened little changed as local investors digested a slew of company earnings reports, including a disappointing interim result from BHP Billiton, and awaited Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s expected update on US monetary policy in Congress.

At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S & P/ASX200 index edged up 6.5 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 5,914.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 7.5 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5,879.9 points.

CMC chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said weaker commodity prices and a disappointing result from BHP, the world’s largest listed mining company, could see the local market under pressure at the open today, although a fall in the Australian dollar overnight may bring international support.

He also said investors would be looking toward key speeches from the US Fed’s Ms Yellen and ECB president Mario Draghi in coming days.

“Traders will examine Mr Draghi’s statements for any further ratcheting up of the imminent stimulus program, and Ms Yellen’s for any signs that recent soft US data has pushed back the tightening timetable,” he said.

Ms Yellen appears tonight (AEDT) and tomorrow for Capitol Hill hearings that will offer the Fed its first major forum since minutes from the central bank’s last meeting suggested the US central bank was dovish about lifting interest rates.

Health care stocks led the market higher, adding 0.68 per cent as a sector.

Healthscope added 0.36 per cent to $2.81 after swinging to a first-half profit.

Consumer discretionaries rose 0.64 per cent as a sector.