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Australian Market Declines In Choppy Trade

The Australian stock market is declining on Thursday in choppy trade despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street.

Worries about the U.S.-China trade talks resurfaced after the South China Morning Post reported that the two countries did not make any progress in deputy level trade talks this week and that the Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will leave Washington DC on Thursday, a day earlier than planned.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 12.10 points or 0.18 percent to 6,534.60, after rising to a high of 6,570.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 12.80 points or 0.19 percent to 6,654.20. Australian stocks closed lower on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is losing more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is declining 0.2 percent and BHP Billiton is down 0.1 percent.

The big four banks - National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac - are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent.

Bank of Queensland said it has appointed former NAB executive Ewen Stafford as its chief financial officer and chief operating officer. The regional lender's shares are down 0.2 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly weak after crude oil prices edged lower overnight. Santos is lower by almost 1 percent and Oil Search is down 0.4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are mixed even as gold prices snapped a three-day losing streak and ended higher overnight. Evolution Mining is adding 0.1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is losing more than 1 percent.

Orora said it has agreed to sell its cardboard packaging unit to Japan's Nippon Paper for A$1.7 billion. The materials firm's shares are gaining more than 17 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see August figures for home loans today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6715, down from $0.6738 on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday amid renewed optimism about upcoming U.S.-China trade talks after a report from Bloomberg News said China is still open to reaching a partial trade deal with the U.S. Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off the minutes of the Federal Reserve's September monetary policy meeting, which revealed a few participants expressed concerns that the markets expect more interest rate cuts than are appropriate.

The Dow climbed 181.97 points or 0.7 percent to 26,346.01, the Nasdaq surged up 79.96 points or 1 percent to 7,903.74 and the S&P 500 jumped 26.34 points or 0.9 percent to 2,919.40.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures settled slightly lower on Wednesday following the release of a report showing an increase in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended October 4. WTI crude for November edged down $0.04 to $52.59 a barrel.

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