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Australian Market Slightly Higher

The Australian stock market is slightly higher on Monday, extending the modest gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 above the 7,400 level, ignoring the firmly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, with energy stocks gaining as crude oil prices stormed higher. Sentiment was also lifted following the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions in most regional areas.

However, the precarious domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria, is also weighing in investor sentiment. NSW reported 1,257 new locally acquired cases and seven deaths on Sunday. Victoria also recorded 473 new locally acquired cases, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 3,507.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 14.20 points or 0.19 percent to 7,420.80, after hitting a low of 7,389.40 and a high of 7,428.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 15.90 points or 0.21 percent to 7,722.10. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is edging up 0.4 percent, Fortescue Metals is adding more than 2 percent and OZ Minerals is surging more than 4 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher, with Oil Search gaining more than 1 percent, Origin Energy up almost 1 percent, Santos adding almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum higher by almost 2 percent, while Beach energy and Origin Energy are up almost 1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Appen is losing more than 3 percent and Afterpay is down almost 2 percent, while Xero is edging down 0.5 percent and WiseTech Global is edging down 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining is gaining more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging up 0.5 percent each. Gold Road Resources is losing more than 2 percent and Resolute Mining is declining more than 4 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is flat and ANZ Banking is edging up 0.3 percent, while Westpac is edging down 0.2 percent and National Australia Bank is losing almost 1 percent.

In other news, shares in Sydney Airport are up more than 5 percent after it agreed to grant due diligence to a superannuation fund consortium, after the suitor sweetened its takeover offer to $8.75 from $8.25 per stapled security, a $23.6 billion offer.

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

On Wall Street, stocks once again failed to sustain an early upward move and came under pressure over the course of the trading day on Friday. With the downturn on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 closed lower for the fifth consecutive session.

The major averages accelerated to the downside going into the close, ending the day firmly negative. The Dow fell 271.66 points or 0.8 percent to 34,607.72, its lowest closing level in well over a month. The Nasdaq slid 132.76 points or 0.9 percent to 15,115.49 and the S&P 500 dropped 34.70 points or 0.8 percent to 4,458.58.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures settled sharply higher Friday on signs of a drop in crude supply in the U.S. due to the impact of Hurricane Ida. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October ended up $1.58 or 2.3 percent at $69.72 a barrel. WTI crude futures gained 0.6 percent for the week.

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