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Australian Market Loses Ground

The Australian stock market is losing ground on Monday following the negative cues from Wall Street on Friday as well as lower crude oil and gold prices. Investors also digested weak corporate earnings results from Westpac.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 21.30 points or 0.36 percent to 5,827.90, off a low of 5,817.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 20.50 points or 0.35 percent to 5,915.30. Australian stocks recovered from an early slide to finish modestly higher on Friday.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank is down 0.1 percent and Commonwealth Bank is losing more than 1 percent, while ANZ Banking is adding 0.2 percent.

Westpac reported full-year cash earnings that were flat with the prior year on customer compensation and legal costs, while its statutory profit rose 1 percent. The bank's shares are edging lower by 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices fell for a fifth straight session Friday. Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are losing more than 1 percent each, while Santos is declining 1 percent.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices fell 0.4 percent on Friday. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is declining 0.7 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are mostly higher. Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are advancing almost 2 percent each, while BHP is down 0.3 percent.

Cochlear said it will appeal a U.S. district court fine of $268.1 million following a patent infringement lawsuit filed by the Alfred Mann Foundation for Scientific Research and Advanced Bionics. The hearing device maker's shares are losing almost 3 percent.

Webjet has agreed to acquire Dubai-based business travel wholesaler Destinations of the World for $240 million. The online travel agency's shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in October, albeit at a slower pace, with a Performance of Service Index score of 51.1. That's down from 52.5 in September, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia will also see the October inflation forecast from TD Securities today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar pared losses, but was quoted at $0.7202 on Monday, still down from $0.7237 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday led by Apple after the tech giant reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded estimates but weaker than expected iPhone shipments. Traders also digested a closely-watched Labor Department report showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of October, led to renewed concerns about the outlook for interest rates.

The Dow fell 109.91 points or 0.4 percent to 25,270.83, the Nasdaq slumped 77.06 points or 1 percent to 7,356.99 and the S&P 500 slid 17.31 points or 0.6 percent to 2,723.06.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices fell on Friday amid worries about oversupply after the U.S. said several countries will receive sanctions waivers to continue buying Iranian oil. WTI crude for December delivery slid $0.55 to $63.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest closing level for a front-month contract since April.

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