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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Monday, recouping some of the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,300 level, following mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday, with the gains led by strength in major miners amid a spike in iron ore prices. Energy stocks are also higher, while technology stocks are weak.

Traders also cautiously await the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy tomorrow, where it is expected to deliver another modest 25 basis point rate increase after domestic inflation trended lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 20.70 points or 0.28 percent to 7,322.20, after touching a high of 7,333.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 19.10 points or 0.26 percent to 7,522.60. Australian stocks closed significantly lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is gaining more than 2 percent, BHP Group is adding almost 3 percent, Mineral Resources is up almost 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is surging almost 6 percent, while OZ Minerals is edging down 0.2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Beach energy is gaining more than 2 percent, Woodside Energy is edging up 0.5 percent and Santos is adding almost 2 percent, while Origin Energy is edging down 0.5 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay owner Block is losing more than 1 percent, Appen is slipping almost 4 percent, WiseTech Global is down almost 2 percent and Xero is declining more than 2 percent, while Zip is adding almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are mostly weak. Northern Star Resources, Evolution Mining and Gold Road Resources are losing more than 1 percent each, while Resolute Mining is surging almost 6 percent and Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are edging up 0.1 to 0.3 percent each, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the services sector in Australia continued to contract in November, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from S&P Global showed on Monday with a services PMI score of 47.6. That's down from 49.3 in October, and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite index slipped to 48.0 last month from 49.8 in October.

Meanwhile, gross operating profits for Australian companies plunged a seasonally adjusted 12.4 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. That was well shy of expectations for a gain of 0.3 percent following the upwardly revised 7.8 percent increase in the three months prior (originally 7.6 percent). On a yearly basis, profits gained 8.5 percent, inventories rose 7.9 percent and wages jumped 11.0 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.681 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a notable turnaround over the course of the trading day on Friday after coming under pressure early in the session. The major averages climbed well off their early lows, eventually ending the session mixed.

While the Dow inched up 34.87 points or 0.1 percent to 34,429.88, the Nasdaq dipped 20.95 points or 0.2 percent to 11,461.50 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.87 points or 0.1 percent to 4,071.70.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures slumped on Friday ahead of OPEC's meeting over the weekend and the European Unio's cap of Russian crude. West Texas Intermediate shed 1.24 per 1,5 percent to $79.98 per barrel.

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