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Australian Market Modestly Lower

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Monday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,100 level, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, with weakness across all industry sectors, particularly technology and mining stocks, amid fears of inflation and policy tightening by the US Federal Reserve.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned over the domestic Covid-19 cases, though the daily new cases are on a steady decline. New South Wales reported 15,091 new cases and 24 deaths on Sunday and Victoria also reported 11,695 new cases and 17 deaths. Queensland recorded 10,212 new cases and 13 deaths, ACT reported 756 new cases and Tasmania reported 619 new cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 26.00 points or 0.36 percent to 7,149.80, after hitting a low of 7,385.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 36.60 points or 0.49 percent to 7,453.50. Australian stocks closed sharply lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Group are losing more than 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is slipping more than 4 percent, Fortescue Metals is declining more than 2 percent and OZ Minerals is sliding almost 4 percent.

Oil stocks are lower, with Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos losing more than 1 percent each, while Beach energy is declining more than 2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen is losing almost 2 percent, Zip is declining more than 2 percent and Xero is slipping more than 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is gaining almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining is losing more than 2 percent, Gold Road Resources is slipping almost 4 percent, Northern Star Resources is declining more than 3 percent, Newcrest Mining is sliding almost 2 percent and Resolute Mining is plunging almost 6 percent.

Shares in Regis Resources are tumbling more than 12 percent after the gold miner slashed its full-year outlook.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.1 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.5 percent, Westpac is down almost 1 percent and ANZ Banking is losing more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in January, albeit at a slower rate, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed on Monday with a manufacturing PMI score of 55.3. That's down from 57.7 in December, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI tumbled to 45.0 from 55.1 in December, while the composite PMI dropped to 45.3 from 54.9.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.718 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks were down again on Friday, hugging both sides of the unchanged line in the morning before going into freefall in the afternoon to end in the red for the fourth straight session.

For the day, the Dow plummeted 450.02 points or 1.30 percent to finish at 34,265.37, while the NASDAQ plunged 385.10 points or 2.72 percent to close at 13.768.92 and the S&P 500 tumbled 84.79 points or 1.89 percent to end at 4,397.94.

The major European markets also closed sharply lower on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended down 1.2 percent, Germany's DAX tanked 1.94 percent and France's CAC 40 tumbled 1.75 percent.

Crude oil prices closed lower on Friday for the second straight session, although they came up from session lows. Crude's correction continued after touching a seven-year high earlier in the week on demand optimism and short-term supply disruptions. West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down 0.86 percent at $84.81 per barrel after falling as much as 3.2 percent earlier.

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