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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Tuesday following the overnight gains on Wall Street and on some positive corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 51.90 points or 0.74 percent to 7,064.40, off a high of 7,070.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 52.10 points or 0.73 percent to 7,160.10. Australian shares closed modestly lower on Monday.

The big four banks are advancing. ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent.

Challenger reported a 3 percent increase in profit before tax for the first half of the year and said it expects full-year profit at the top end of its guidance range. The investment management company's shares are gaining more than 12 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher even as crude oil prices slipped to a thirteen-month low overnight. Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.6 percent and Santos is rising 0.4 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are weak. Rio Tinto is lower by almost 1 percent, BHP is declining 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed even as gold prices rose overnight on safe-haven appeal. Evolution Mining is losing more than 3 percent, while Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent.

Transurban Group reported a 46 percent surge in its statutory net profit for the first half of the year and said it will pay a higher interim distribution compared to the year-ago period. The toll roads operator's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

Beach Energy reported a 2 percent decrease in first-half profit and lowered its full-year production as well as earnings outlook. The oil and gas exploration company's shares are losing almost 4 percent.

Suncorp Group said its net profit from continuing operations for the first half of the year declined 7 percent, reflecting a surge in bushfire and hailstorm claims. The insurance giant's shares are lower by more than 2 percent.

Cochlear has lowered its full-year profit outlook, saying that the Wuhan coronavirus has cut demand for hearing implant surgery. Shares of the hearing implants maker are lower by more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoted at $0.6686, compared to $0.6707 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks recovered after an initial drop and closed higher on Monday as traders returned to ignoring concerns about the economic impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. Traders seemed reassured by Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to win the fight against the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, some traders stuck to the sidelines ahead of the release of closely watched reports on consumer prices, retail sales and industrial production later this week.

The Dow climbed 174.31 points or 0.6 percent to 29,276.82, the Nasdaq jumped 107.88 points or 1.1 percent to 9,628.39 and the S&P 500 advanced 24.38 points or 0.7 percent to 3,352.09.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both dipped by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Monday to a 13-month low amid rising concerns about the global economy and the outlook for energy demand due to the coronavirus outbreak. WTI crude for March delivery slid $0.75 or about 1.5 percent to $49.57 a barrel.

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