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Australian Market Significantly Higher

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 at seven-month highs to move above the 7,300 level, following the broadly positive cues from global markets overnight, with strong gains across most sectors, led by technology and mining stocks, as traders cheered US Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comments about interest rate hikes.

Powell's remarks provided further evidence the central bank plans to slow its aggressive pace of interest rate hikes as soon as next month.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 71.90 points or 0.99 percent to 7,356.10, after touching a high of 7,375.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 74.00 points or 0.99 percent to 7,554.70. Australian stocks ended modestly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources and OZ Minerals are up almost 1 percent each. Fortescue Metals is adding almost 3 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Beach energy is gaining almost 2 percent, Santos is edging up 0.1 percent and Origin Energy is up more than 1 percent, while Woodside Energy is declining almost 2 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is surging almost 7 percent, Appen is soaring more than 10 percent, Xero is up more than 4 percent, WiseTech Global is adding more than 1 percent and Zip is gaining more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are gaining almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding more than 1 percent and National Australia Bank is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among gold miners, Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 5 percent, Gold Road Resources is adding almost 3 percent, Evolution Mining is surging almost 6 percent, Resolute Mining is soaring more than 9 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 4 percent.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in November, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from S&P Global revealed on Thursday with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.3. That's down from 52.7 in October, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Capital expenditure in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - coming in at A$33.878 billion. That missed forecasts for an increase of 1.5 percent following the 0.3 percent decline in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, overall capex rose 1.7 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.682 on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance in morning trading on Wednesday but moved sharply higher in reaction to highly anticipated remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. With the surge, the Dow reached a new seven-month closing high, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached their best closing levels in over two months.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, ending the session at their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 737.24 points or 2.2 percent to 34,589.77, the Nasdaq soared 484.22 points or 4.4 percent to 11,468.00 and the S&P 500 spiked 122.48 points or 3.1 percent to 4,080.11.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.0 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures surged on Wednesday after data showed a steep drop in U.S. crude inventories last week. Expectations of increased demand from China and a weaker dollar also contributed to the jump in oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January ended higher by $2.35 or 3 percent at $80.55 a barrel.

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