UPDATE 7.40am: The Australian sharemarket has opened higher, with sentiment still positive after encouraging economic data from China and the United States.
At 7.33am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 22.1 points, or 0.46 per cent, at 4832.3 and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 21.3 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 4855.1.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was 16 points higher at 4797 with 10,659 contracts traded.
The gains defied a mixed session on Wall Street overnight, in which Apple shares dropped 12.4 per cent after it posted disappointing revenue and financial guidance on Wednesday.
“Apple's disappointing sales results were the main negative factor for US indices overnight but this is unlikely to worry local investors too much,” CMC Markets chief analyst Ric Spooner said.
“Broader economic statistics released over the last 24 hours, including China's PMI and US jobless claims did nothing to disturb the consensus view of an improving, although moderate economic growth outlook.”
New US jobless claims fell for the second week in a row last week, while data released overnight showed China's manufacturing activity has reached a two-year high.
Womenswear retailer Specialty Fashion Group was the standout performer in early trade, up 24 cents, or 33 per cent, at 93 cents.
The owner of the Katies and Millers chains says it expects its first half profit to nearly triple due to cost savings and improved sales.
Sleep disorder specialist ResMed was another strong performer, after posting a 24 per cent increase in its second quarter net income, ahead of market expectations.
Shares in ResMed were up 30 cents, or seven per cent, at $4.58.
The resources sector had a subdued start to trade, with BHP Billiton down four cents at $37.12, Rio Tinto up 16 cents at $66.45 and Fortescue down one cent at $4.62.
Emerging miner Atlas Iron was up 1.5 cents at $1.585 after meeting expectations with its second quarter production results.
Bank stocks were higher, with Westpac up 18 cents at $27.28, Commonwealth up 35 cents at $63.59, National Australia Bank up 12 cents at $27.21 and ANZ four cents higher at $26.04.National turnover was 400.4 million shares worth $2.68 billion, with 343 stocks up, 229 down and 248 unchanged.
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