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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Monday, extending gains of the previous three sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 hovering just below the 7,100 level at fresh 14-month highs, following broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday. Traders are also looking ahead to the RBA's release of the minutes of its policy meeting on Tuesday.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 25.00 points or 0.35 percent to 7,088.50, after touching a high of 7,094.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 26.50 points or 0.36 percent to 7,352.30. Australian stocks closed marginally higher or flat on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is down almost 1 percent, while Rio Tinto is gaining almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals and Mineral Resources are up more than 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices declined on Friday. Oil Search is down more than 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are losing almost 1 percent each.

The big four banks are higher. National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are edging up 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is edging up 0.4 percent, while WiseTech Global and Appen are losing almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are lower after gold prices climbed on Friday. Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.2 percent, Star Resources is gaining more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is adding more than 2 percent.

Shares in Orocobre are up more than 4 percent and Galaxy Resources are up almost 2 percent after the the nation's top lithium producers agreed to a $4 billion merger amid soaring prices and a brighter demand outlook for the key raw material in electric vehicle batteries.

Shares in Kerry Stokes' Seven Group Holdings are in a trading halt as it is raising $550 million to pay down debt and provide flexibility after the company increased its stake in construction materials firm Boral.

Billionaire casino mogul James Packer is selling his 37 per cent stake in Crown Resorts back to the group under a proposed $3 billion deal funded by private equity giant Oaktree Capital Management. Shares are up almost 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.771 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Friday to extend the rally seen in the previous session. With the continued upward move, the Dow and the S&P 500 once again set new record closing highs.

The Dow climbed 164.68 points or 0.5 percent to 34,200.67 and the S&P 500 rose 15.05 points or 0.4 percent to 4,185.47. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq posted a more modest gain, inching up 13.58 points or 0.1 percent to 14,052.34.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday, snapping a four-session winning streak but still finishing sharply higher for the week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May were down $0.33 or 0.5 percent at $63.13 a barrel, although the contract gained nearly 6.5 percent in the week.

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