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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is extending gains on Wednesday from the previous session following the overnight rally on Wall Street amid optimism about the next round of U.S.-China trade talks. However, gains are modest as investors digested mixed earnings results from local companies.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 6.90 points or 0.11 percent to 6,086.00, after rising to a high of 6,094.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 11.10 points or 0.18 percent to 6,159.80. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are advancing in a range of 1.2 percent to 1.5 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is up 0.4 percent after its shares went ex-dividend.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent and BHP Group is adding 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is up almost 1 percent, while Oil Search and Santos are adding more than 1 percent each after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight.

Gold miners are mixed even as gold prices rose modestly overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is declining 1 percent.

Carsales.com reported an 82 percent fall in first-half profit following an impairment against its stake in Stratton Finance, while revenue grew 17 percent. The online vehicle marketplace's shares are losing more than 6 percent.

Bapcor reported a 4 percent increase in first-half profit, but said its full-year profit would be at the lower end of its prior guidance. Shares of the automotive parts provider are falling 9 percent.

Virgin Australia recorded a turnaround to profit in the first half of the year, but did not provide any outlook for the full year due to market uncertainty. The airline's shares are gaining more than 7 percent.

CSL recorded a nearly 7 percent increase in first-half profit and said it expects full-year profit to come in at the upper end of its guidance range. However, the pharmaceutical giant's shares are declining almost 2 percent.

Tabcorp said its first-half profit rose more than seven-fold, while revenues doubled as the company benefited from its 2017 merger with Tatts. However, the gambling giant's shares are declining more than 2 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see February results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7103, up from $0.7081 on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday amid optimism lawmakers will manage to avoid another government shutdown after negotiators reached a tentative agreement on border security. Optimism about the next round of U.S.-China trade talks taking place this week also contributed to the strength on Wall Street.

The Dow soared 372.65 points or 1.5 percent to 25,425.76, the Nasdaq jumped 106.71 points or 1.5 percent to 7,414.62 and the S&P 500 surged up 34.93 points or 1.3 percent to 2,744.73.

European stocks also moved mostly higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent.

Crude oil prices surged higher on Tuesday on hopes OPEC-led production cuts and the U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela will help tighten crude supply in the global market. WTI crude for March ended up $0.69 or 1.3 percent at $53.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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