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Australian Market Extends Losses

The Australian stock market is notably lower on Wednesday, extending sharp losses from the previous session following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street amid renewed trade concerns after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he might prefer to wait until after the 2020 presidential elections to strike a trade deal with China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 120.20 points or 1.79 percent to 6,592.10, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 116.40 points or 1.71 percent to 6,702.00. Australian stocks posted their biggest intraday percentage loss in two months on Tuesday.

The major miners are notably lower amid weaker base metals prices. BHP is losing almost 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is declining almost 2 percent.

Rio Tinto is lower by more than 3 percent after the mining giant said it has curtailed operations at its Richard Bay Minerals unit in South Africa amid violence nearby. The company also said it will spend $1.5 billion on its Kennecott copper mine in the U.S. over the next six years, which will extend production to 2032.

The big four banks are also weak. Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are declining in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent, while ANZ Banking is losing more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are declining even as crude oil prices rose modestly overnight. Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is lower by almost 2 percent while Newcrest Mining is adding 0.5 percent after gold prices rose sharply overnight.

TPG Telecom chief executive David Teoh said he is optimistic a planned merger of his company with Vodafone Australia will be cleared early next year, after a series of regulatory disappointments this year. TPG Telecom's shares are down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia's gross domestic product gained a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent and down from 0.6 percent in the previous three months.

The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in November, albeit at a slower pace, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Service Index score of 53.7. That's down from 54.2, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6850, up from $0.6846 on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday for the third straight session amid renewed trade concerns after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he might prefer to wait until after the 2020 elections to strike a trade deal with China. The comments from the president added to rising trade concerns after his administration threatened to impose duties of up to 100 percent on $2.4 billion in French imports, including champagne and handbags.

After hitting its lowest intraday level in a month, the Dow pared its losses but still tumbled 280.23 points or 1 percent to 27,502.81. The Nasdaq fell 47.34 points or 0.6 percent to 8,520.64 and the S&P 500 slid 20.67 points or 0.7 percent to 3,093.20.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.8 percent.

Crude oil prices recovered from an early move to the downside to close modestly higher on Tuesday. WTI crude oil for January delivery added $0.14 or 0.3 percent to close at $56.10 a barrel.

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