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Australian Market Rises

The Australian stock market is rising in choppy trading on Friday following the overnight losses on Wall Street and worries about rising U.S.-China tensions. Banks and oil stocks are among the leading gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 15.50 points or 0.28 percent to 5,565.90, after touching a high of 5,569.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 18.10 points or 0.32 percent to 5,679.00. Australian markets fluctuated before ending lower on Thursday.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.6 percent, Santos is adding 0.4 percent and Oil Search is up 0.3 percent after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia - are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent.

In the mining space, BHP and Fortescue Metals are advancing almost 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is down 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are mixed even after gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is adding 0.2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is losing almost 1 percent.

Wesfarmers said it will incur writedowns of up to A$650 million in its full-year results, close several Target stores and convert others to Kmart stores, as the conglomerate completed the first phase of a review of its underperforming Target business. Shares of Wesfarmers are down 0.2 percent.

Home builder AVJennings reported a fall in property contract sales and said it no longer expects its full-year results to be better than the year-ago period. The company's shares are losing almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6563, compared to Thursday's close of $0.6571.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday, partly due to profit taking, as some traders cashed in on the strong gains posted on Monday and Wednesday. Traders were also reacting to a Labor Department report showing initial jobless claims pulled back further off their record high but remain at an elevated level. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing another steep drop in U.S. existing home sales in the month of April.

The Dow fell 101.78 points or 0.4 percent to 24,474.12, the Nasdaq slumped 90.90 points or 1 percent to 9,284.88 and the S&P 500 slid 23.10 points or 0.8 percent to 2,948.51.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. The German DAX Index tumbled by 1.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Thursday, extending recent gains, amid continued optimism about a pick-up in energy demand, and falling supply levels in the market. WTI crude rose $0.43 or about 1.3 percent at $33.92 a barrel.

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