UPDATE 8.20am: The Australian sharemarket has opened higher despite weak offshore leads as the financial sector lifts local shares.
At 9.30am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 34.5 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 5232.9 points while the broader All Ordinaries index was 34.5 points, or 0.7 per cent, higher at 5215.1 points.
IG market strategist Evan Lucas said the Australian market had opened higher due to a strong start from the financial sector after Westpac and Macquarie banks went ex-dividend.
“With Westpac now the second largest listing on the ASX, the possible pick-up in the share price today, as investors look to collect the 96 cents a share on offer, may hold us above water,” he said.
However, he said, the gains on the local market would be moderated by weak leads from the US overnight.
US stocks fell on Thursday, as buyers took a breather after a slate of successive record closes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.50 (0.15 per cent) to 15,082.62.
The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 6.02 (0.37 per cent) to 1,626.67, snapping a string of five straight days of setting fresh closing records.
Locally, the major banks mostly opened higher.
Westpac surged 15 cents to $33.50, Commonwealth Bank jumped 45 cents to $71.49, National Australia Bank added five cents to $32.73 and Macquarie Bank gained 55 cents to $45.95.
The mining giants opened mixed.
BHP Billiton gained four cents to $34.58, Rio Tinto lost 3.5 cents to $58.165 and Fortescue dropped 1.5 cents to $3.905.
In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia is due to release its Statement on Monetary Policy.
In equities news, the High Court is expected to release its judgment on Aristocrat Technologies Australia's case against Global Gaming Supplies, while Oil Search has its annual general meeting scheduled in Port Moresby.