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Australian Market Pares Losses

The Australian stock market opened lower on Tuesday following the weak cues from Wall Street amid worries about U.S.-China trade tensions and its impact on global economic growth.

However, the market has pared earlier losses and is now modestly lower. Weakness in the financial and healthcare sectors was offset by gains by mining and oil stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 2.80 points or 0.04 percent to 6,587.50, after touching a low of 6,561.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 3.20 points or 0.05 percent to 6,666.90. Australian stocks edged higher on Monday.

The big four banks are weak. National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent.

A federal court has dismissed Australian Securities and Investment Commission or ASIC's lawsuit alleging Westpac broke lending laws in the way it assessed the suitability of more than 260,000 home loan applications. However, shares of Westpac are losing 0.4 percent.

Among healthcare stocks, Cochlear is losing almost 2 percent and pharma giant CSL is declining more than 1 percent, while Resmed is adding 0.5 percent.

The major miners are advancing. Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP Group are adding 0.3 percent each.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices closed higher overnight. Santos is advancing almost 1 percent and and Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed, even as gold prices rose overnight. Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.3 percent.

Challenger reported a 4.6 percent decrease in full-year profit despite higher revenues and said it expects challenging operating conditions to continue in fiscal 2020. Shares of the investment management firm are gaining 7 percent.

Magellan Financial Group reported a 78 percent surge in net profit for the year ended June 30 and announced a A$275 million capital raising ahead of launching a new ASX-listed investment trust. The global funds manager's shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, Australia will see July figures for the indexes of business confidence and conditions from National Australia Bank today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6756, compared to $0.6783 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Monday amid worries about a prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China after President Donald Trump recently indicated he feels no sense of urgency to resolve the dispute. Concerns about the impact of increasingly violent protests in Hong Kong also weighed on stocks, with the Hong Kong International Airport canceling all departing flights due to the disruption caused by protesters.

The Dow plunged 391.00 points or 1.5 percent to 25,896.44, the Nasdaq tumbled 95.73 points or 1.2 percent to 7,863.41 and the S&P 500 slumped 35.96 points or 1.2 percent to 2,882.69.

The major European markets all moved modestly lower on Monday. While the German DAX Index slipped by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices edged higher on Monday amid speculation production cuts by OPEC and lower shipments from Saudi Arabia will outweigh concerns about near term energy demand outlook. WTI crude for September ended up $0.43 or about 0.8 percent at $54.93 a barrel.

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