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Australian Market Rises Ahead Of RBA Decision

The Australian stock market is rising on Tuesday following the overnight rally on Wall Street as the reported death tolls in some of the world's coronavirus hot spots showed signs of easing.

Investors now look ahead to the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision on interest rates after its monetary policy meeting later today. The RBA is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate steady at the record low of 0.25 percent. The central bank will also consider whether its bond-buying program requires any adjustments.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 125.10 points or 2.37 percent to 5,411.90, after rising to a high of 5,423.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 130.60 points or 2.45 percent to 5,454.20. Australian stocks closed sharply higher on Monday.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is higher by more than 5 percent and Evolution Mining is gaining more than 4 percent as safe-haven gold prices rose almost 2.9 percent overnight.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are higher in a range of 3.3 percent to 3.5 percent.

QBE Insurance has appointed AXA XL's Jason Harris as its new chief executive after Richard Pryce decided to retire. Harris is chief executive of global property and casualty at AXA XL. Shares of QBE Insurance are higher by more than 3 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 5 percent, Rio Tinto is rising more than 2 percnt and BHP is advancing more than 1 percent each.

In the oil sector, Santos is climbing more than 6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 2 percent even as crude oil prices fell about 8 percent overnight.

Oil Search has launched a A$1.16 billion capital raising program, saying that its capital preservation measures and equity raising are intended to ensure it can withstand a prolonged period of lower oil prices. The company's shares are in a trading halt.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to contract in March, and at a much faster rate, with a Performance of Service Index score of 38.7. That's down from 47.0 in February and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia also will see trade data figures for February today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6119, compared to $0.6050 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Monday as the reported death tolls in some of the world's coronavirus hot spots showed signs of easing over the weekend. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York State fell to 594 on Sunday from 630 on Saturday, reflecting the first daily decrease. Reports of decreases in the number of new infections and deaths in European countries like Italy and Spain also generated positive sentiment.

The Dow soared 1,627.46 points or 7.7 percent to 22,679.99, the Nasdaq spiked 540.15 points or 7.3 percent to 7,913.24 and the S&P 500 surged up 175.03 points or 7 percent to 2,663.68.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Monday. The German DAX Index skyrocketed by 5.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index soared by 4.6 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 3.1 percent.

Crude oil prices fell on Monday after moving up in the previous two sessions, following the meeting of leading oil producers getting postponed by three days. WTI crude for June ended down $2.26 or about 8 percent at $26.08 a barrel.

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