Australian stocks headed modestly higher Friday, swinging from a negative open on the back of mild losses overnight in the U.S. The S&P/ASX 200 was quoted 0.3% higher about 40 minutes into trade, with energy shares leading the gains after oil futures extended their sharp advance a day after Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the Yemeni civil war. Oil Search Ltd. and Santos Ltd. rose 1.3% each, while Beach Energy Ltd. gained 0.9% and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. advanced 1.1%. Among the mining shares, Oz Minerals Ltd. rose 1%, and Rio Tinto Ltd. improved by 0.3%. BHP Billiton Ltd. lost 0.2% as Dow Jones quoted the senior miner as saying heavy rain in northern Chile had affected some of its operations, though it didn't specify which projects were involved. Gold extractor Evolution Mining Ltd. lost 0.6% on news it was in talks to buy some Australian mines from privately held La Mancha Resources Inc. Among other notable movers, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. rose 1.6%, Ten Network added 2.3%, MarketWatch parent News Corp. fell 1.4%, and Qantas Airways Ltd. lost 0.9% in reaction to the rising oil price.
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