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Australian Market Modestly Lower

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Monday following the mixed cues from Wall Street Friday and the surge in crude oil prices after weekend drone attacks on Saudi Arabia's crude oil production facilities raised fears about global supply disruptions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 11.60 points or 0.17 percent to 6,657.60, after touching a low of 6,646.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 7.80 points or 0.12 percent to 6,769.30. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

The big four banks are weak. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent.

The major miners are also mostly lower. BHP Billiton is gaining almost 3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent.

Northern Star Resources said it will spend A$43 million to expand the capacity of its Pogo goldmine in Alaska by 30 percent. The miner's shares are gaining more than 6 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is higher by more than 3 percent after a rebound in safe-haven gold prices following the attacks on Saudi crude production facilities.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is gaining more than 6 percent, Santos is higher by almost 6 percent and Oil Search is advancing more than 4 percent, after crude oil prices surged more than 10 percent in Asian trades.

Bellamy's Australia has entered into a A$1.5 billion takeover scheme with China Mengniu Dairy Company and urged its shareholders to approve the deal. The infant formula maker's shares are surging more than 55 percent.

Virgin Australia confirmed it will buy back the remaining 35 percent of its Velocity frequent flyer program from private equity group Affinity Equity Partners. The airline's shares are unchanged.

Sims Metals Management warned that its results for the first half of the year will be "materially lower" than a year earlier due to the U.S.-China trade war and falling demand for cars. The metals and electronics recycler's shares are losing more than 11 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6868, compared to $0.6874 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed in choppy trading on Friday. Signs of easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China and upbeat economic data generated some positive sentiment, but traders seemed wary of pushing stocks to new highs amid lingering uncertainty. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department released a report showing U.S. retail sales increased by more than expected in August amid a jump in auto sales.

The Dow inched up 37.07 points or 0.1 percent to 27,219.52, but the Nasdaq dipped 17.75 points or 0.2 percent to 8,176.71 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.18 points or 0.1 percent to 3,007.39.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Friday, extending losses to a fourth straight session, as traders feared a likely drop in energy demand and excess supply in the market. WTI crude for October ended down $0.24 or 0.4 percent at $54.85 a barrel.

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