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Australian Market Rises

The Australian stock market is rising on Friday following the overnight gains on Wall Street after U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, but exempted Canada and Mexico. News that Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May also boosted investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 27.90 points or 0.47 percent to 5,970.80, slightly off a high of 5,971.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 28.10 points or 0.46 percent to 6,074.70. Australian shares rose on Thursday as trade war fears eased and Australia's trade surplus figures for January topped forecasts.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is adding 0.3 percent and Newcrest Mining is up 0.2 percent even as gold prices slipped overnight.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals are declining 0.3 percent each, while Rio Tinto is down 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices fell to a three-week low overnight. Oil Search is losing more than 1 percent, Santos is declining 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.1 percent.

Shares of Myer Holdings are losing more than 4 percent after the struggling department store chain was removed from the Australian share market's benchmark ASX200 Index.

Oz Minerals is considering renewable energy options for its current and future assets in a bid to combat ongoing pressure from surging electricity prices and also prevent blackouts. The copper miner's shares are adding 0.3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday following lower commodity prices. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7789, down from US$0.7826 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed firmly in positive territory in a volatile session on Thursday after President Donald Trump signed proclamations imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The choppy trading seen for much of the day came as traders looked ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed higher for the fifth consecutive session, climbing 31.30 points or 0.4 percent to 7,427.95. The Dow also rose 93.85 points or 0.4 percent to 24,895.21, and the S&P 500 advanced 12.17 points or 0.5 percent to 2,738.97.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the German DAX Index advanced by 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures tumbled Thursday on expectations that the U.S. dollar will strengthen on rising interest rates. April WTI oil declined $1.03 or 1.7 percent to settle at $60.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest in three weeks.

by RTT Staff Writer

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