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Australian Market Extends Losses

The Australian stock market is extending losses on Monday from the previous session following the negative cues from Wall Street Friday and as China's death toll from the coronavirus outbreak exceeded the global total from the SARS epidemic.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 35.00 points or 0.50 percent to 6,987.60, off a low of 6,982.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 39.90 points or 0.56 percent to 7,081.50. Australian shares closed lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is losing 3 percent, BHP is declining almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is down almost 1 percent amid weak iron ore prices.

The big four banks are also lower. ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices lost more than 1 percent on Friday. Oil Search is losing 3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are lower by more than 1 percent each.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are higher as safe-haven gold prices edged higher Friday. Evolution Mining is gaining more than 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent.

Boral said employees at its North American windows business overstated pre-tax earnings figures by $24.4 million between March 2018 and October 2019. The company also said its second-half results would be impacted by bushfire-related disruptions and chief executive Mike Kane will retire in August. Shares of the construction materials manufacturer are losing 11 percent.

JB Hi-Fi reported a more than 6 percent increase in profit for the first half of the year and raised its interim payout to shareholders. The electronics retailer's shares are gaining almost 7 percent.

Aurizon Holdings reported a 19 percent increase in net profit for the first half of the year, said it is on track to meet its full-year outlook and increased its share buyback by A$100 million to A$400 million. The rail freight operator's shares are rising more than 2 percent.

GPT Group recorded a 40 percent fall in net profit for the full year on lower revenues, while funds from operations increased almost 7 percent and the company raised its full-year payout to shareholders. The property developer's shares are advancing almost 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoted at $0.6664, compared to $0.6717 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday on profit taking. However, selling pressure was somewhat subdued following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of January. The Labor Department said employment jumped by 225,000 jobs in January following a revised increase of 147,000 jobs in December. Economists had expected employment to rise by 160,000 jobs compared to the addition of 145,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Dow tumbled 277.48 points or 0.9 percent to 29,102.29, the Nasdaq slid 51.64 points or 05 percent to 9,520.51 and the S&P 500 fell 18.08 points or 0.5 percent to 3,327.70.

The major European markets also ended weak on Friday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 declined 0.51 percent, while Germany's DAX ended down 0.45 percent and France's CAC 40 shed 0.14 percent.

Crude oil futures closed lower on Friday as worries about the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the global economy as well as on energy demand weighed on oil prices. WTI crude for March ended down $0.63, or about 1.2 percent, at $50.32 a barrel.

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