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Australian Market Extends Gains

The Australian stock market is extending gains on Friday from the previous session following the record closing highs overnight on Wall Street amid easing U.S.-Iran tensions. Nevertheless, weaker commodity prices weighed on resources stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 49.40 points or 0.72 percent to 6,923.60, after rising to a high of 6,926.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 46.60 points or 0.67 percent to 7,038.00. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday.

In the tech sector, Wisetech Global and Appen are rising almost 3 percent each, while Xero is higher by almost 2 percent.

Among consumer staples, Coles Group is advancing almost 2 percent, while Woolworths and Wesfarmers are adding more than 1 percent each, ahead of the release of Australia's retail sales data for November.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, and Westpac Banking are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent, while National Australia Bank is rising 0.2 percent.

MyState said that its managing director and chief executive Melos Sulicich has informed the company of his decision to resign and will leave the company in July 2020 in accordance with his contract. Shares of the banking and wealth management group are unchanged.

Meanwhile, the major miners are lower. Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent, BHP is lower by 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is edging down 0.1 percent.

Gold miners declined after gold prices extended losses overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 5 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices edged lower overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Santos is adding almost 1 percent.

In economic news, Australia will provide November numbers for retail sales today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6855, compared to $0.6974 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed at record highs on Thursday on easing concerns about the conflict between the U.S. and Iran amid signs of de-escalation. Nonetheless, overall trading activity was somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the Labor Department's monthly jobs report on Friday.

The Dow climbed 211.81 points or 0.7 percent to 28,956.90, the Nasdaq advanced 74.18 points or 0.8 percent to 9,203.43 and the S&P 500 rose 21.65 points or 0.7 percent to 3,274.70.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1.3 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 futures settled near four-week lows on Thursday, as higher U.S. crude inventories and easing worries about the U.S.-Iran standoff pushed down prices for a second straight session. WTI crude for February ended down $0.05 or 0.03 percent at $59.56 a barrel.

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