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Australian Market Declines

The Australian stock market is declining on Monday after two straight days of gains and despite the positive cues from Wall Street Friday. Investors turned cautious following news about growing calls for U.S. President Donald Trump's removal from office.

Worries about the rising coronavirus cases in New South Wales, which recorded four new local COVID-19 cases on Sunday, also weighed on the market. In Queensland, Brisbane's three-day lockdown following detection of the UK coronavirus strain ends on Monday night, but people will have to carry and wear face masks for ten more days.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 27.00 points or 0.40 percent to 6,730.90, after touching a low of 6,722.40. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 29.90 points or 0.43 percent to 6,994.30. Australian shares closed notably higher on Friday.

Gold miners are extending losses after gold prices settled at their lowest since mid-December on Friday. Evolution Mining is losing more than 5 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 4 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent, while Westpac is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.3 percent, while BHP Group is adding 0.2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum is gaining more than 4 percent, Santos is rising almost 4 percent and Oil Search is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose almost 4 percent on Friday.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said the value of retail sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 7.1 percent on month in November, coming in at A$31.654 billion. That beat expectations for an increase of 7.0 percent following the 1.4 percent gain in October.

Australia will also see December's inflation forecast from TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday amid optimism that a Democrat-controlled government will lead to more fiscal stimulus and a better handling of the coronavirus vaccine rollout. In a statement on Thursday, President Donald Trump finally acknowledged "a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th," although he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name. Traders also reacted positively to a closely watched Labor Department report showing an unexpected decrease in U.S. employment in the month of December.

While the Nasdaq jumped 134.50 points or 1 percent to 13,201.98, the Dow rose 56.84 points or 0.2 percent to 31,097.97 and the S&P 500 climbed 20.89 points or 0.6 percent to 3,824.68.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Friday, as recent data showing a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles, and Saudi Arabia's decision to cut output continued to support the commodity. WTI crude for February rose $1.41 or about 2.8 percent at $52.24 a barrel, the highest level since February 2020.

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