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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is modestly higher in choppy trading on Friday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, with gains is mining and energy stocks amid continued strength in commodity prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 18.30 points or 0.25 percent to 7,453.60, after touching a high of 7,456.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 17.70 points or 0.23 percent to 7,666.10. Australian markets ended notabaly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.2 percent. Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are flat.

Oil stocks are higher. Santos is gaining more than 1 percent, while Woodside Energy and Beach energy are adding almost 1 percent each. Origin Energy is edging down 0.3 percent.

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

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are edging up 0.1 to 0.5 percent each, while National Australia Bank is flat.

Gold miners are mostly higher. Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 2 percent, Newcrest Mining is adding almost 3 percent, Gold Road Resources is advancing more than 3 percent, Evolution Mining is edging up 0.5 percent and Resolute Mining is surging almost 5 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.691 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw further downside during trading on Thursday after ending the previous session sharply lower. The major averages fluctuated after coming under pressure in early trading but remained stuck in the red.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory. The Dow slid 252.40 points or 0.8 percent to 33,044.56, the Nasdaq slumped 104.74 points or 1.0 percent to 10,852.27 and the S&P 500 fell 30.01 points or 0.8 percent to 3,898.85.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Thursday as hopes about higher demand from China outweighed data showing a jump in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended January 13. The West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended higher by $0.85 or about 1.1 percent at $80.33 a barrel.

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