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Australian Market Declines

The Australian stock market is declining on Friday after three days of gains and following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors also digested mixed Australian economic data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 10.60 points or 0.16 percent to 6,813.10, after touching a low of 6809.00. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 12.40 points or 0.17 percent to 7,094.70. The Australian market closed at an eleven-month high on Thursday.

Oil stocks are notably lower after crude oil prices declined overnight. Oil Search and Santos are losing more than 2 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay is losing more than 4 percent and Appen is down 0.3 percent, while WiseTech Global is adding almost 1 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are declining more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.3 percent.

The big four banks - National Australia Bank, Westpac, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank - are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.1 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total value of retail sales in Australia were down a seasonally adjusted 4.2 percent on month in December, coming in at A$30.324 billion. That missed expectations for a decline of 2.5 percent following the 7.1 percent jump in November.

The manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in January, and at a faster rate, Markit Economics said in Friday's flash estimate with a PMI score of 57.2. That's up from 55.7 in December and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Thursday in choppy trading, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 closed at record highs. The choppy trading came as traders expressed some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets following the run to record highs. Optimism about ramped up efforts to combat the coronavirus and more stimulus under new President Joe Biden have helped to prop up the markets.

While the Nasdaq climbed 73.67 points or 0.6 percent to 13,530.92, the S&P 500 inched up 1.22 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,853.07 and the Dow edged down 12.37 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 31,176.01.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Thursday after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed an increase in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. WTI crude for March delivery dipped $0.18 or about 0.3 percent to $53.13 a barrel.

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