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Australian Market Edges Lower

The Australian stock market is edging lower on Friday in choppy trading despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and higher commodity prices. Gains by mining and oil stocks were offset by weakness in the banking sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 7.50 points or 0.11 percent to 6,534.90, after rising to a high of 6,551.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 2.90 points or 0.04 percent to 6,616.20. Australian stocks fluctuated before ending lower on Thursday.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are declining a range of 1 percent to 1.6 percent.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority or APRA has issued new license conditions on AMP's pension fund units after the Hayne royal commission inquiry revealed misconduct by the company's management. The wealth manager's shares are losing almost 4 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 3 percent, while BHP Group and Rio Tinto are advancing more than 1 percent each.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices rose for a third straight session overnight. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are higher by more than 1 percent each.

Oil stocks also advanced after crude oil prices rebounded overnight. Woodside Petroleum is rising more than 2 percent, while Santos is advancing almost 2 percent and Oil Search is higher by more than 1 percent.

McGrath said it expects a full-year core earnings loss of A$6 million to A$6.5 million due to challenging conditions in Australia's housing market and also announced the appointment of Howard Herman as chief financial officer with effect from June 24, 2019. The realtor's shares are unchanged.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is edging lower against the U.S dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6912, up from $0.6909 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday amid continued optimism that tame inflation will lead the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates after a Labor Department report showed bigger than expected decreases in U.S. import and export prices. Meanwhile, a separate report from the Labor Department said first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged higher in the week ended June 8.

The Dow rose 101.94 points or 0.4 percent to 26,106.77, the Nasdaq advanced 44.41 points or 0.6 percent to 7,837.13 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.80 points or 0.4 percent to 2,891.64.

The major European markets saw modest strength on Thursday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both closed just above the unchanged line.

Crude oil prices rebounded on Thursday after closing at five-month lows in the previous session, as reports about attack on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman suggested a likely fall in crude supply in the international market. WTI crude for July delivery jumped $1.14 or 2.2 percent to $52.28 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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