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Australian Market Extends Losses

The Australian stock market is extending losses on Monday from the previous session following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday after the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data for the month of February. In addition, the fall in crude oil prices dragged oil stocks lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 23.10 points or 0.37 percent to 6,180.70 after touching a low of 6,177.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 21.60 points or 0.34 percent to 6,265.50. Australian stocks fell sharply on Friday.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices declined 1 percent on Friday. Santos, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are all declining more than 2 percent each.

The major miners are also weak. Rio Tinto is edging down 0.1 percent, Fortescue Metals is down 0.4 percent and BHP Group is declining almost 1 percent.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are advancing following a surge in gold prices. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 3 percent and Evolution Mining is higher by more than 2 percent.

Newcrest Mining said it will pay $806.5 million to Toronto-listed Imperial Metals Corp. to acquire a 70 percent joint-venture interest in, and operatorship of the Red Chris mine in British Columbia, Canada.

Appen said it is launching a A$300 million capital raising to fund the acquisition of U.S.-based machine learning software firm Figure Eight. Shares of the Sydney-based artificial intelligence firm are in a trading halt.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7042, up from $0.7001on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied going into the close of trading on Friday after seeing initial weakness, but still ended modestly lower. The initial weakness came after a report from the Labor Department revealed job growth nearly ground to a halt in February after soaring in January. The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment edged up by 20,000 jobs in February after jumping by an upwardly revised 311,000 jobs in January. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 180,000 jobs compared to the spike of 304,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow edged down 22.99 points or 0.1 percent to 25,450.24, the Nasdaq dipped 13.32 points or 0.2 percent to 7,408.14 and the S&P 500 slipped 5.86 points or 0.2 percent to 2,743.07.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both slid by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Friday as worries about demand growth resurfaced on data showing a weak jobs growth in the U.S. in the month of February and a sharp plunge in Chinese exports. WTI crude for April delivery fell $0.59 or 1 percent to $56.07 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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