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The Aussie market is firmer at lunch on Thursday, rising for a second successive session. The ASX 200 is 24 points or 0.3% higher at 7089,. Local shares are higher despite US markets ending a touch softer in overnight trade as investors weighed up comments by US Fed Reserve Chair Jay Powell following its policy meeting.

The energy sector has been a standout early with global oil prices rising ~1.5% overnight on renewed hopes for rising fuel demand out of the US as inventories saw large drawdowns and refiners ramped up activity. Santos (STO) and Woodside (WPL) are 1.1% and 1% higher each with Oil Search (OSH) gaining 1.8%.

Materials, industrials and healthcare are among the other major advancers. Leading declines are consumer sectors, both discretionary and staples while financials are flat as the big four banks fall.

It has been another busy day for quarterly updates, with the likes of Fortescue Metals (FMG), Woolworths (WOW), Newcrest Mining (NCM), GPT Group (GPT) and IOOF Ltd (IFL) all releasing updates.

Fortescue is down 0.7% with the iron ore miner reporting shipments of 42.3 million tonnes over the March Quarter, flat on the year before but down 9% on the December Quarter. Average revenue rose 17% qoq to US$143/dry metric tonne (dmt) but costs (C1) also increased by 16% qoq. FY21 guidance remains unchanged.

Woolworths (WOW) is 3.3% lower as group sales rose 0.4% to $16.6 billion but Australian supermarket sales fell slightly to $11.1 billion, while it fell 10% in New Zealand. Australian food sales were broadly flat for the first three weeks of April. Big W managed double digit sales growth of 18% to $1.02 billion.

Afterpay (APT) is 2% higher as the buy-now pay-later (BNPL) provider signed a deal with a NZ based digital payment solution business, Novatti.The agreement will allow NZ users to access APT-branded payment cards in their digital wallet.

The AUD has lifted back above 78 US cents to 78.14 US cents.

Published by CommSec