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Australian Market Notably Lower

The Australian stock market is notably lower on Friday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street after data showed a record contraction in U.S. economic activity in the second quarter as well as an increase in U.S. jobless claims. Worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Australia and Asia also weighed on the market.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 62.50 points or 1.03 percent to 5,988.60, after touching a low of 5,985.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 59.30 points or 0.96 percent to 6,118.20. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday.

In the oil sector, Santos is losing more than 3 percent, Oil Search is lower by almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is declining more than 2 percent after crude oil prices fell more than 3 percent overnight.

Origin Energy said fourth-quarter revenue from its share in the Australia Pacific LNG project, a joint venture with U.S.-based ConocoPhillips and China's Sinopec, declined 5.2 percent. The company's electricity sales in its energy markets division also decreased. Shares of the electricity and gas retailer are lower by almost 4 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are losing more than 2 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 1 percent.

The big four banks - Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking - are declining in a range of 1.1 percent to 2.0 percent.

AMP, which will provide its interim results on August 13, said it expects underlying profit for the first half of the year to more than halve from last year. The financial services giant's shares are tumbling more than 12 percent.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are down more than 2 percent each after gold prices snapped a nine-session winning streak to close lower overnight.

On the economic front, Australia will see June figures for private sector credit and second-quarter data for producer prices today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.7208, compared to $0.7153 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Thursday after an early sell-off following a Commerce Department report showing a record contraction in U.S. economic activity in the second quarter. The report said real GDP plummeted at an annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter following a 5.0 percent slump in the first quarter. A separate report from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims increased for the second straight week in the week ended July 25th, although claims rose by much less than expected. Tech giants Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook all climbed into positive territory ahead of the release of their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

While the Nasdaq rose 44.87 points or 0.4 percent to 10,587.81, the Dow slid 225.92 points or 0.9 percent to 26,313.65 and the S&P 500 fell 12.22 points or 0.4 percent to 3,246.22.

The major European markets all moved sharply lower on Thursday. The German DAX Index plunged by 3.5 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday as worries about the energy demand outlook resurfaced after data showed a sharp contraction in U.S. GDP and an uptick in unemployment claims and amid a continued surge in coronavirus cases across the world. WTI crude for September delivery tumbled $1.35 or about 3.3 percent to $39.92 a barrel.

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