Aust shares gain further ground

Petrina Berry
Rising bank and energy stocks have led broad gains on the ASX on Friday

The Australian share market has gained ground in early trade, thanks to a lift in oil prices and a positive lead from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.48 per cent at 1030 AEDT with the energy and utilities sectors leading gains.

Patersons Securities economist Tony Farnham said a rally in global oil prices overnight had lifted the heavyweight energy sector, while Wall Street's gains had put the Australian share market in good stead.

He said the banks were also in positive territory partly due to bargain hunters following a recent sell-off and due to the international banking regulator The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision's , new reform package announced overnight.

"The ruling in terms of how you risk weight for mortgages was more generous than what some people were talking about six to 12 months ago," Mr Farnham said.

"The next question is: do those regulators in those various countries adhere to those rulings?"

On the local share market, Westpac, which is holding its annual general meeting on Friday, had gained 1.2 per cent, Commonwealth Bank was up 0.9 per cent, National Australia Bank had lifted 0.7 per cent and ANZ had risen 0.5 per cent.

Investment bank Macquarie was up 1.4 per cent.

As for the major energy players, Woodside Petroleum was up 0.5 per cent at $31.60, Santos had gained 0.4 per cent to $4.98 and Oil Search had added 0.8 per cent to $7.25.

The major miners were mixed following a mixed performance of base metals overnight.

BHP Billiton was up 0.3 per cent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals had fallen, by 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Shares in insurance giant IAG have gained seven cents, or one per cent, to $7.21 after the company announced it had signed a reinsurance agreement with three businesses which will share a portion of its expenses in return for a matching percentage of premiums.

Meanwhile, the local currency was trading at 75.11 US cents at 1030 AEDT on Friday, from 75.44 on Thursday.

ON THE ASX AT 1030 AEDT:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 28.6 points, or 0.48 per cent, at 6,006.3 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 26.9 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 6,087.7 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 33 points, or 0.55 per cent, at 6,014 points.

* National turnover was 396 million securities traded worth $273 million.