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Australian Market Marginally Higher

The Australian stock market is marginally higher in choppy trading on Thursday after the previous two sessions of losses, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 back above the 7,000 mark just off its 14-month highs, following positive cues overnight from Wall Street. The market is primarily boosted by gold miners, offsetting weakness in materials and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 3.90 points or 0.06 percent to 7,001.40, after touching a high of 7,033.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 2.60 points or 0.04 percent to 7,261.50. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Wednesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is flat, while Rio Tinto is edging up 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is losing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices tumbled overnight. Oil Search and Beach Energy are losing almost 2 percent each, while Santos is declining almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down more than 1 percent.

Gas giant Santos reported that its first-quarter revenue grew 9.2 percent to US$964 million or A$$1.24 billion on Improved commodity prices, with the firm expecting strong LNG prices to continue. Production was up 39 percent from last year to 24.8 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Woodside Petroleum reported first-quarter revenues of US$1.12 billion or A$1.44 billion, up 4.2 percent from last year. Sales volumes also grew 8 percent to 25.7 million barrels of oil equivalent. Meanwhile, production declined 2 percent to 23.7 MMboe from last year.

Among Tech stocks, Appen is losing more than 2 percent, while Afterpay and WiseTech Global are edging up 0.5 percent each.

Among the big four banks, Westpac is flat, ANZ Banking is edging down 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.4 percent. National Australia Bank is edging down 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices climbed. Evolution Mining, Gold Road Resources and Newcrest Mining are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Northern Star Resources is up almost 5 percent. Resolute Mining is edging down 0.5 percent.

AMP reported net quarterly cash outflows of $1.5 billion from its wealth management business and $1.3 billion in outflows from AMP Capital, as the financial services company continues to deal with the impact of leadership instability. Shares are down almost 3 percent.

Shares in AGL are declining more than 4 percent after the utility firm's chief executive Brett Redman abruptly resigned with immediate effect after two-and-a-half years at its helm, ahead of its coal break-up plans.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.776 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a strong move back to the upside during trading on Wednesday following the pullback seen over the two previous sessions. The major averages saw initial weakness but climbed firmly into positive territory as the day progressed.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session near their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 316.01 points or 0.9 percent to 34,137.31, the Nasdaq surged up 163.95 points or 1.2 percent to 13,950.22 and the S&P 500 advanced 38.48 points or 0.9 percent to 4,173.42.

the major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures declined sharply on Wednesday amid rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand due to rising coronavirus infections in India. Data showing an unexpected uptick in U.S. crude inventories also weighed on oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for June fell $1.32 or 2.1 percent at $61.35 a barrel, the lowest close since April 13.

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