New Zealand Markets closed

Aust shares defy US fall

The Australian market has opened stronger despite a fall on Wall Street overnight, earning back some of Thursday's massive losses.

At 1021 AEDT on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 39.7 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 5,019.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 36.7 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 5,035.3 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 38 points at 5,005 points, with 16,496 contracts traded.

"The consensus before the market opened was that it would be down eight to 10 points based on what happened in New York overnight, but these days it often comes out of the box early and shoots up," said Bruce Smith, client advisor at RBS Morgans.

"I'd expect it to finish somewhere a little bit up or a little bit down."

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.34 per cent to 13,880.62, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.63 per ent to 1,502.42 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 1.04 per vent to 3,131.49.

Locally, the top four banks were all performing strongly, leading the market higher.

ANZ was up 26 cents, or 0.93 per cent, to $28.24, Commonwealth was up 92 cents, or 1.42 per cent, to $65.73, NAB had added 54 cents, or 1.84 per cent, to $29.96, and Westpac was 67.5 cents, or 2.29 per cent higher, at $30.165.

But the resources sector was lower.

BHP Billiton was down 10 cents to $37.07 and Rio Tinto was down 32 cents at $66.98.

Santos on Friday posted a drop in full year net profit, but the oil and gas producer said it still expected to meet its production targets in 2013.

"The market will react positively to that - the result was considered better than expected," Mr Smith said.

Santos was up 46 cents, or 3.87 per cent, to $12.36.

Scrap metal recycler Sims Metal Management posted another first half loss, but its positive outlook for the months ahead caused its shares to rise 53 cents, or 4.97 per cent, to $11.20.

Surfwear retailer Billabong posted a $537 million first half loss and downgraded its expectations for underlying earnings in the full year.

Its shares were down four cents, or 4.4 per cent, at 87 cents.

National turnover at 1037 AEDT was 401.6 million securities worth $3.1 billion.