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Australian Market Declines

The Australian stock market is declining on Monday following the modest losses on Wall Street Friday amid worries about tensions in the Middle East. Stocks are lower across the board.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 23.50 points or 0.35 percent to 6,627.30, just off a low of 6,625.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 24.60 points or 0.37 percent to 6,709.70. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 1 percent, BHP Group is declining 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are also weak despite gold prices edging higher overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.4 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, while ANZ Banking is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is edging down 0.1 percent and Santos is lower by 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is advancing 0.7 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.

Metcash reported a turnaround to profit in the full year, while underlying earnings declined 3 percent due to lower food earnings and higher finance costs. The IGA supermarket supplier's shares are losing more than 6 percent.

Coles Group is lower by almost 3 percent, while Wesfarmers and Woolworths are declining almost 1 percent each.

Ausdrill said its subsidiary has won a five-year, A$800 million underground mining services contract from Khoemacau Copper Mining at a Botswana mine. The company's shares are gaining almost 6 percent.

GrainCorp. said it will appoint Graham Bradley as chairman of its new malt business if the planned spin-off of the unit proceeds. The bulk grain handler's shares are lower by 0.5 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6951, up from $0.6922 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly lower on Friday in choppy trading as traders seemed cautious amid escalating between tensions between the US and Iran. Traders were also looking ahead to next week's G-20 summit in Japan, where Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are due to meet in an effort to revive trade talks.

The Dow edged down 34.04 points or 0.1 percent to 26,719.13, the Nasdaq slipped 19.63 points or 0.2 percent to 8,031.71 and the S&P 500 dipped 3.72 points or 0.1 percent to 2,950.46.

The major European markets also saw modest weakness on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday, extending gains from previous session, as an escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran raised concerns about a disruption in global crude supplies. WTI crude for August added $0.36 or 0.6 percent to close at $57.43 a barrel.

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