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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Thursday, with stocks higher across the board despite the modest losses overnight on Wall Street. Investors digested quarterly production results from major mining as well as oil companies and also looked ahead to the release of Australia's unemployment report for March later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 21.70 points or 0.35 percent to 6,278.10, off a high of 6,280.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 15.50 points or 0.24 percent to 6,365.80. Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are up in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher even as crude oil prices declined overnight. Oil Search is up 0.7 percent and Santos is rising almost 2 percent.

Woodside Petroleum reported a 4 percent increase in its first-quarter revenue from last year, while total production for the quarter edged lower. The company's shares are adding almost 1 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 1 percent and BHP Group is adding 0.3 percent.

Fortescue Metals reported third-quarter iron ore shipments that were flat with last year and also lowered its full-year shipments outlook due to disruptions caused by Tropical Cyclone Veronica.

South32 said its third-quarter production of coking coal or metallurgical coal fell 37 percent from the preceding second quarter, but added that it is on track to meet its 2019 production outlook. The miner's shares are up 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding almost 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is lower by 3 percent.

GrainCorp said its grains business had experienced a deterioration of about A$40 million in expected EBITDA for the half-year period up to March 31, 2019, due to a challenging period in international markets and the ongoing drought conditions in eastern Australia. The grain handler's shares are lower by more than 1 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will release March figures for unemployment today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7169, down from $0.7197 on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed slightly lower on Wednesday in choppy trading as traders digested a mixed batch of earnings news from big-name companies such as PepsiCo, Morgan Stanley, Netflix and IBM Corp. The lackluster performance continued as the Federal Reserve's Beige Book said U.S. economic activity expanded at a slight-to-moderate pace in March and early April.

The Dow edged down 3.12 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 26,449.54, the Nasdaq slipped 4.15 points or 0.1 percent to 7,996.08 and the S&P 500 dipped 6.61 points or 0.2 percent to 2,900.45.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Wednesday, but the decline was just marginal as data from Energy Information Administration or EIA showed a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. WTI crude for May declined $0.29 or 0.45 percent to close at $63.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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