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Australian Market Declines

The Australian stock market is declining on Monday following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday after the Labor Department's non-farm payroll data showed slower than expected job growth in the month of December. Stocks are mostly lower across the board.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 41.70 points or 0.60 percent to 6,887.30, after touching a low of 6,880.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 40.70 points or 0.58 percent to 7,001.20. Australian stocks closed at record highs on Friday.

The major miners are lower. Fortescue Metals is declining 1 percent, while BHP and Rio Tinto are lower by almost 1 percent each.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking is lower by 0.4 percent and Commonwealth Bank is declining 0.2 percent. Westpac Banking and National Australia Bank are down 0.1 percent each.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices declined for a fourth straight session on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is lower by 1 percent, while Oil Search and Santos are losing almost 1 percent each.

In the tech sector, Xero is losing almost 2 percent, Wisetech Global is down more than 1 percent and Appen is lower by almost 1 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are higher after gold prices rose modestly on Friday. Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.5 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see December results for the inflation forecast from TD Securities today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the US dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6904, up from $0.6879 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday after a positive start amid easing concerns about a conflict between the U.S. and Iran. The markets turned lower in late morning after the Labor Department's closely watched non-farm payroll data showed the pace of job growth slowed by more than expected in the month of December. The report said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 145,000 jobs in December after spiking by a revised 256,000 in November. Economists had expected employment to increase by about 164,000 jobs.

The Dow shed 133.13 points or 0.46 percent to 28,823.77, while the Nasdaq dipped 24.57 points or 0.27 percent to 9,178.86 and the S&P 500 fell 9.35 points or 0.29 percent to 3,265.35.

The major European markets failed to hold early gains and ended lower on Friday, as investors made cautious moves at higher levels after the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on Iran. The UK's FTSE 100 ended down 0.14 percent, while Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both ended lower by 0.09 percent.

Crude oil prices declined for a fourth successive session on Friday amid easing tensions in the Middle East. WTI crude for February declined $0.52 or about 0.9 percent to close at $59.04 a barrel.

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