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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, recouping some of the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 7,400 level near all-time highs, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, boosted by the Federal Reserve comments that economic activity and employment in the US have continued to strengthen. Concerned about the continued spike in COVID-19 cases in New South Wales is limiting the upside.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 29.10 points or 0.39 percent to 7,408.40, after touching a high of 7,417.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 33.50 points or 0.44 percent to 7,683.10. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Wednesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is gaining almost 2 percent and OZ Minerals is up almost 1 percent. Rio Tinto and Mineral Resources are adding almost 3 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is up more than 1 percent after it reported a record fourth quarter, and narrowly beat its full-year estimate for shipments, driven by Chinese demand.

Oil stocks are mixed despite crude oil prices climbing overnight. Oil Search and Origin Energy are flat, while Santos is edging down 0.4 percent. Woodside Petroleum is gaining almost 1 percent, while Beach Energy is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are flat, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is edging up 0.3 percent, while Xero, Afterpay and Appen are gaining almost 3 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining is edging down 0.2 percent, while Resolute Mining is losing almost 6 percent. Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are up almost 1 percent each, while Gold Road Resources is rising almost 2 percent.

In economic news, Export prices in Australia were up 13.2 percent on quarter in the second quarter of 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - accelerating from 11.2 percent in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, export prices surged 26.0 percent. Import prices rose 1.9 percent on quarter, but fell 2.5 percent on year.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.736 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended mixed on Wednesday after a somewhat volatile session as investors reacted to a slew of corporate earnings updates, and the Federal Reserve's monetary policy statement.

The tech-laden Nasdaq composite index surged higher and settled at 14,762.58, gaining 102.01 points or 0.7 percent. The Dow ended down by 127.59 points or 0.36 percent at 34,930.93, while the S&P 500 edged down 0.82 points or 0.02 percent to 4,400.64.

Meanwhile, European stocks closed higher on the day, rebounding after two successive days of losses. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 0.29 percent, Germany's DAX gained 0.33 percent and France's CAC 40 surged up 1.18 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher Wednesday, lifted by data showing a larger-than-expected drop in U.S. crude inventories last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for September ended up $0.74 or 1 percent at $72.39 a barrel.

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