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Australian Market Advances

The Australian stock market is advancing on Thursday in volatile trade following the modest gains overnight on Wall Street. Expectations for more U.S. stimulus was offset by news that Donald Trump has become the first American president to be impeached by the U.S. House twice.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 18.80 points or 0.28 percent to 6,705.40, after touching a low of 6,669.30 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 18.30 points or 0.26 percent to 6,972.20. Australian shares fluctuated before closing slightly higher on Wednesday.

Tech stocks are rising after three days of losses. Afterpay is gaining more than 7 percent, WiseTech Global is higher by more than 3 percent and Appen is advancing almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Westpac is rising almost 2 percent, ANZ Banking is adding almost 1 percent and National Australia Bank is up 0.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging lower by 0.1 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is declining more than 1 percent and BHP Group is down almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are also weak even as gold prices rebounded overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.6 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices declined overnight. Oil Search is losing 0.7 percent and Santos is down 0.1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of building permits issued in Australia advanced a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent on month in November, coming in at 17,205. That was in line with expectations following the 3.8 percent increase in October.

On Wall Street, stocks rose modestly on Wednesday, adding to the slim gains posted in the previous session. While the Dow ended the day nearly unchanged, the broader Nasdaq and S&P 500 moved to the upside. The higher close by the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 came as treasuries regained ground following recent weakness, leading to a drop in bond yields that contributed to significant strength among interest rate sensitive stocks such as utilities and commercial real estate stocks.

The Nasdaq climbed 56.52 points or 0.4 percent to 13,128.95 and the S&P 500 rose 8.65 points or 0.2 percent to 3,809.84. Meanwhile, the Dow spent the day lingering near the unchanged line before closing down 8.22 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 13,128.95.

The major European markets closed slightly higher on Wednesday after a volatile session amid uncertainty about near term outlook. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended lower by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Wednesday despite data showing a larger than expected drop in crude inventories last week. WTI crude for February settled lower by $0.30 or about 0.6 percent at $52.91 a barrel.

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