Australia stocks rise; defensive shares gain
SYDNEY (MarketWatch) -- Australian shares edged higher early Friday, shrugging off a weak lead from Wall Street as defensive stocks outperformed and some miners pared recent losses. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index added 0.3% to 4,321,30, on track for a monthly gain of 2%, but down 0.5% this week. Defensive healthcare stocks were the best performing sector, as CSL Ltd. traded up 1.3% and Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd. added 1%. Several major miners rebounded following heavy falls, with Rio Tinto Ltd. [au: rio] up 2.3% and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. rising 3.1%.