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Australian Market Drifts Lower Amid Cautious Trades

After edging up in early trades, the Australian stock market is trading slightly weak on Friday with investors treading cautiously following the U.S. banking giant JP Morgan reporting a $2 billion trading loss due to a failed hedging strategy.

Healthcare, consumer staples and energy stocks are finding some support, while shares from financial, mining and industrial sectors are trading mixed. Property trusts and telecommunications stocks are trading weak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,281.3 after an initial upmove, is currently trading at 4,285.7, down 9.9 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 8.1 points or 0.2 percent at 4,345.7, slightly off the day's low of 4,340.3.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are trading lower by 0.5 to 1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down marginally.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is down marginally, Rio Tinto is losing about 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.6 percent. Newcrest Mining is in positive territory with a gain of over 1.5 percent.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are up 0.3 to 0.6 percent, while Oil Search is trading slightly weak.

Perseus Mining, Campbell Brothers, Treasury Wine Estates, Seek and AMP are trading higher by 2 to 4.2 percent. Spark Infrastructure Group, Coca-Cola Amatil, Resmed Inc and CSL are also trading notably higher.

Meanwhile, Onesteel, Alumina, Mirvac Group, QR National, Boart Longyear, Telstra Corporation, Sydney Airport, Bluescope Steel and Boral are trading in negative territory, losing 1.3 to 3 percent.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand are up marginally, while South Korea is trading notably lower. Markets across the region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks failed to sustain early gains and mostly ended flat after a choppy ride. While bargain hunting pushed up stock prices higher early on in the session, concerns about the political uncertainty in Greece dragged the markets down as the day progressed.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Nasdaq edged down by 1.1 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,933.6, the Dow crept up 20 points or 0.2 percent to 12,855 and the S&P 500 rose 3.4 points or 0.3 percent to 1,358.

Major European markets surged higher on Thursday. The German DAX index ended up 0.7 percent, while the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures settled modestly higher on Thursday, snapping a six-day losing streak, on a weak dollar and some mixed economic data from the U.S., including a flat initial jobs claims for last week. Crude for June delivery gained $0.27 or 0.3 percent to close at $97.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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