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Australian Market Declines

The Australian stock market is declining on Friday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street after an unexpected increase in U.S. consumer price inflation for June dampened the prospects of an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve later this month. Investors are also cautious as they looked ahead to China's trade data for June to be released later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 16.80 points or 0.25 percent to 6,699.30, off a low of 6,687.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 15.40 points or 0.23 percent to 6,790.40. Australian stocks rose on Thursday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is losing almost 2 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP Group are declining more than 1 percent each.

The Western Australia state government has reportedly approved a plan from BHP to expand existing projects and create new mines as well as thousands of jobs over the next 50 to 100 years.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is losing more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by almost 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is advancing more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent, while Santos is down 0.4 percent after .crude oil prices dipped overnight.

Charter Hall Group has confirmed it has acquired Telstra's global headquarter tower in Melbourne for A$830 million. The property investor's shares are lower by 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is almost unchanged against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6976, compared to $0.6974 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Thursday in choppy trading, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs. The advance by the Dow was partly due to a jump by shares of UnitedHealth and other health insurers on news President Donald Trump is abandoning a plan to eliminate rebates from government drug plans. The proposal was the centerpiece of Trump's blueprint to lower drug costs, but faced stiff resistance from pharmacy-benefit managers.

While the Dow jumped 227.88 points or 0.9 percent to 27,088.08 and the S&P 500 rose 6.84 points or 0.2 percent to 2,999.91, the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down 6.49 points or 0.1 percent to 8,196.04.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. The French CAC 40 Index, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index all fell by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures turned weak after a solid start on Thursday, weighed down by a downward revision in demand forecast by OPEC. WTI crude for August ended down $0.23 or about 0.4 percent at $60.20 a barrel.

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