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Australian Market Slightly Higher

The Australian stock market is trading slightly higher on Monday following uncertain cues from Wall Street Friday. Australia has also begun its mass COVID-19 vaccine program.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 11.20 points or 0.16 percent to 6,805.00, after falling to a low of 6,774.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 17.10 points or 0.24 percent to 7,081.10. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday, its worst fall in three weeks.

Among the major miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are all advancing between 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

Oil stocks are mixed after crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday. Oil Search is edging up, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum are edging down.

The big four banks are also displaying a mixed trend. National Australia Bank is down more than 1 percent, Westpac is losing nearly 1 percent and Commonwealth Bank is edging down, while ANZ Banking is edging up.

Two Australian banks, Bank of Queensland and Members Equity Bank, have agreed to merge to form an $88 billion banking giant to challenge the big four dominant banks in Australia.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower on Friday. Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is up 0.7 percent.

Property developer Lendlease Group reported a 37 percent decline in earnings for the first half after the COVID-19 pandemic stemmed building development interest. Lendlease's shares are edging down a third of a percent.

Shares of steelmaker Bluescope are adding 1.5 percent after it reported a 78 percent surge in profit for the first half.

On Wall Street, stocks gave back ground over the course of the trading session on Friday after moving mostly higher early in the session. The major averages pulled back off their best levels of the day before closing near the unchanged line.

The major averages finished the day with a mixed performance. While the S&P 500 dipped 7.26 points or 0.2 percent to 3,906.71, the Dow crept up 0.98 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 31,494.32 and the Nasdaq inched up 9.10 points or 0.1 percent to 13,874.46

The major European markets closed higher on Friday, recovering from recent losses. While the German DAX Index climbed 0.77 percent, the French CAC 40 advanced 0.7 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower Friday as worries about supply disruptions eased after most of the oil companies in Texas prepared to resume production. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended lower by $1.28 or 2.1 percent at $59.24 a barrel.

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