ASX higher, banks up in early trade

Australian shares have posted a solid rise in early trading, with energy, materials and property stocks leading the gains.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 41.3 points, or 0.77 per cent, to 5405.5 points after the first 15 minutes of trade on Friday.

The All Ordinaries index was 46.3 points higher, or 0.85 per cent, at 5496.2.

The sizeable energy and materials sectors each had gains of 1.37 per cent, while property stocks were higher by 1.51 per cent.

The financial sector was also trading higher with the big four banks all up more than 1 per cent.

Health care was the only sector bucking the trend – down 0.85 per cent.

Shares in Telstra were slightly lower after the company said it will take a $300 million impairment charge on its 35 per cent stake in Foxtel, after the majority owner of the pay TV network, News Corp, wrote down its value.

AMP shares are higher after it shelved a decision to divest its New Zealand wealth management operations, following the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank is due to give its Statement on Monetary Policy later on Friday, after leaving the cash rate at 0.25 per cent on Tuesday.

Governor Philip Lowe will provide an updated forecast of how the board expects the economy to change during the coronavirus crisis.

Stocks globally were bolstered on Thursday after Beijing reported a better than expected rise in exports in April, confounding expectations of a sharp fall. The US markets were also helped by upbeat earnings reports.

That mitigated the impact of US claims for unemployment benefits totalling a 3.169 million for the week ended May 2.

One Australian dollar buys 65.01 US cents at 1015 AEST, up from 64.54 US cents at Thursday’s close.

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