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Australian Market Declines, AMP Shares Fall

The Australian stock market is declining on Monday despite the positive cues from Wall Street Friday with investors turning cautious ahead of the release of key data from China, including GDP, later in the day. Banks and mining stocks are weak, offsetting gains by gold miners and oil stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 53.20 points or 0.79 percent to 6,643.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 50.50 points or 0.74 percent to 6,738.30. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are lower in a range of 0.6 percent to 1.0 percent.

AMP said that an interim dividend for the six months to June 30 was unlikely due to uncertainty surrounding the A$3.3 billion sale of its wealth protection business, AMP Life. The beleaguered wealth manager's shares are losing 12 percent.

The major miners are also mostly lower. BHP Group is down 0.4 percent and Rio Tinto is lower by 0.2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 1 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are higher after gold prices rose on Friday. Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.5 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.3 percent, while Santos is edging down 0.1 percent after crude oil prices closed flat on Friday.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7022, compared to $0.7000 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, extending the recent upward trend as the market continued to benefit from renewed optimism about the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates as soon as its next meeting later this month. Trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, as traders brace for the unofficial start of earnings season next week.

The Dow jumped 243.95 points or 0.9 percent to 27,332.03, the Nasdaq climbed 48.10 points or 0.6 percent to 8,244.14 and the S&P 500 rose 13.86 points or 0.5 percent to 3,013.77.

The major European markets closed mixed on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures ended flat on Friday as traders stayed largely cautious, weighing near term prospects for energy demand and supply. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended at $60.21 a barrel, up just a penny over previous close.

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