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Australian Market Rises Ahead Of RBA Decision

The Australian stock market is rising on Tuesday for the first time in five days following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street amid easing concerns about a trade war due to mounting pressure on President Donald Trump to hold off on his threat to impose tariffs. In addition, higher crude oil prices boosted oil stocks.

Investors are now looking ahead to the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy decision due later in the day.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 78.90 points or 1.34 percent to 5,973.90, off a high of 5,975.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 75.10 points or 1.25 percent to 6,071.50.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is rising more than 3 percent, Fortescue Metals is adding more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is up almost 1 percent as concerns about President Trump's decision to impose tariffs eased.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is rising almost 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent despite gold prices edging lower overnight.

Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search is adding 0.4 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 2 percent and Santos is rising more than 3 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 1.1 percent.

Michael International's shares are gaining almost 3 percent after the jewellery chain said it will close 80 percent of its struggling Emma & Roe stores by June 30 at a cost of up to A$7.9 million and leave just six outlets open.

News Corp. and Telstra said they have signed definitive agreements to combine Foxtel and Fox Sports Australia into a single company by the end of June. Shares of News Corp. as well as Telstra are rising almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Tuesday and then announce its decision on interest rates.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total value of retail sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent on month in January, coming in at A$26.263 billion. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.4 percent following the 0.5 percent contraction in December.

The current account deficit in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted A$14.024 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. That missed forecasts for a shortfall of A$12.2 billion following the downwardly revised A$11.013 billion deficit in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7768, down from US$0.7751 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant turnaround on Monday after an initial move to the downside amid lingering concerns about a trade war as President Donald Trump plans to implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, as traders look ahead to the Labor Department's monthly employment report due to be released on Friday.

The Dow jumped 336.70 points or 1.4 percent to 24,874.76, the Nasdaq surged up 72.84 points or 1 percent to 7,330.70 and the S&P 500 spiked 29.69 points or 1.1 percent to 2,720.94.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Monday. While the German DAX Index jumped 1.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose Monday amid reports that Libya is suffering supply interruptions. April WTI oil climbed $1.32 or 2.2 percent to settle at $62.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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