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Australian Market Extends Gains

The Australian stock market is extending gains on Wednesday from the previous session, following the record closing highs overnight on Wall Street and the increase in crude oil prices. Technology and healthcare stocks are among the major gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 37.20 points or 0.59 percent to 6,356.60, after touching a high of 6,367.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 34.50 points or 0.54 percent to 6,445.60. Australian shares hit their best level in nearly eight months on Tuesday.

In the U.S.-dollar exposed healthcare sector, CSL is rising more than 2 percent and Cochlear is gaining more than 3 percent, reflecting a stronger U.S. dollar.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is higher by almost 4 percent and Altium is rising more than 4 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank - are advancing in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices held near six-month highs overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are adding 0.4 percent each, while Santos edged down 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are weak after a fall in copper prices. Fortescue Metals is losing almost 2 percent, BHP Group is declining almost 1 percent, and Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices declined overnight. Newcrest Mining is losing more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is adding 0.3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7094, down from $0.7119 on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 ended at record closing highs on Tuesday, reflecting a positive reaction to upbeat earnings news from a number of big-name companies, including United Technologies, Coca-Cola and Twitter. Positive sentiment was also generated by a Commerce Department report showing new home sales in the U.S. unexpectedly jumped to their highest level in well over a year in the month of March.

The Dow climbed 145.34 points or 0.6 percent to 26,656.39, the Nasdaq surged up 105.56 points or 1.3 percent to 8,120.82 and the S&P 500 jumped 25.71 points or 0.9 percent to 2,933.68.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices held near six-month highs on Tuesday after the U.S. said it would not renew Iran oil waivers once they expire. WTI crude for June ended up $0.75 or 1.1 percent at $66.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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