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Australian Market Notably Higher

The Australian stock market is notably higher on Thursday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Optimism about an economic recovery following the easing of lockdown restrictions in various countries and the possibility of further stimulus helped offset worries about rising U.S.-China tensions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 116.10 points or 2.01 percent to 5,891.10 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 114.90 points or 1.95 percent to 5,999.80. Australian stocks ended little changed with a negative bias on Wednesday.

The big four banks are sharply higher. ANZ Banking is gaining almost 6 percent, National Australia Bank is higher by 5 percent, Westpac is rising 4 percent and Commonwealth Bank is advancing almost 3 percent.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank said it will make a provision of A$148.3 million for potential future impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regional lender's shares are rising 7 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising almost 3 percent, BHP is advancing almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are higher even as gold prices edged lower overnight. Evolution Mining is gaining almost 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is higher by more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is declining 0.5 percent and Oil Search is down 0.3 percent, while Santos is adding 0.2 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

News Corp. Australia said that the bulk of its regional and suburban community papers in Australia will go digital only from June 29, leading to job losses. The media company's shares are rising more than 2 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see first-quarter numbers for capital expenditure and May figures for the business confidence index from ANZ.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6627, compared to Wednesday's close of $0.6644.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday as traders continued to express optimism about a quick economic recovery as the country reopens following the coronavirus lockdown. Adding to the positive sentiment was news that the European Commission plans to launch a massive recovery fund for the euro region to help limit the damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow surged up 553.16 points or 2.2 percent to 25,548.27, the Nasdaq climbed 72.14 points or 0.8 percent to 9,412.36 and the S&P 500 jumped 44.36 points or 1.5 percent to 3,036.13.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both jumped by 1.3 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Wednesday as worries about outlook for energy demand resurfaced due to rising tensions between the U.S. and China, and on reports of a likely move by Russia to increase crude output next month. WTI crude for July fell $1.54 or about 4.5 percent at $32.81 a barrel.

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