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Australian Market Modestly Lower

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Monday, giving up some of the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,300 level, following the negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, as technology stocks drag, with crude oil prices providing support, even as traders continue to express concerns that the domestic coronavirus situation, particularly in Victoria.

Victoria also recorded 1,612 new locally acquired cases and eight deaths on Sunday, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 19,012. NSW reported 496 new locally acquired cases and eight deaths.

Meanwhile, Australia's biggest city Sydney has started to emerge from a 107-day lockdown after the vaccination rate for people over the age of 16 hit 70 percent. Further restrictions will be lifted in the next couple of weeks when the vaccination rate hits 80 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 39.40 points or 0.54 percent to 7,280.70, after hitting a low of 7,250.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 37.10 points or 0.49 percent to 7,580.20. Australian stocks closed significantly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are edging down 0.3 percent each, while OZ Minerals and Fortescue Metals are edging up 0.5 percent each. Mineral Resources is gaining almost 3 percent.

Oil stocks are higher, with Oil Search gaining almost 2 percent, Beach energy adding almost 4 percent and Santos higher by more than 1 percent, while Origin Energy and Woodside Petroleum are edging up 0.2 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is losing almost 4 percent and WiseTech Global is down almost 2 percent, while Xero and Appen are declining almost 3 percent each.

Gold miners are mostly higher. Resolute Mining is edging up 0.5 percent, Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 1 percent, Gold Road Resources is adding 1.5 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging up 0.2 percent. Evolution Mining is down more than 1 percent

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is edging down 0.3 percent, while Westpac and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.1 percent each. Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.3 percent.

Shares in Star Entertainment Group are plunging more than 17 percent after reports in the morning the that the casino has been enabling suspected money laundering.

Shares in Ampol are up more than 3 percent after the Australian fuel supplier finally got approval from the board of New Zealand's Z Energy for its $2 billion offer to acquire it and create a trans-Tasman industry giant.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.732 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Friday, following a three-day winning streak. The major averages spent most of the session bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages finished the day in negative territory, with the Nasdaq underperforming its counterparts. While the Nasdaq fell 74.49 points or 0.5 percent to 14,579.54, the Dow edged down 8.69 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,746.25 and the S&P 500 dipped 8.42 points or 0.2 percent to 4,391.34.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index fell 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index slid 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures jumped Friday after surging past $80 a barrel for the first time in seven years amid tighter supplies and signs of increasing demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for November jumped $1.05 or 1.3 percent at $79.35 a barrel after climbing to a high of $80.11 a barrel. WTI crude futures gained 4.6 percent in the week, gaining for a seventh straight week.

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