Australian Market Notably Lower

The Australian stock market is notably lower on Friday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 6,900 level, despite the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, dragged by weakness in financial, technology and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 31.20 points or 0.45 percent to 6,937.40, after hitting a low of 6,923.20 and a high of 6,993.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 29.60 points or 0.41 percent to 7,119.00. Australian markets ended significantly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are edging up 0.1 to 0.2 percent each, while Rio Tinto is gaining almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding 1.5 percent. OZ Minerals is flat.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Beach energy, Woodside Energy and Santos are losing almost 1 percent each, while Origin Energy is edging up 0.3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen is losing almost 1 percent, Xero is declining more than 2 percent and WiseTech Global is edging down 0.2 percent, while Zip is gaining more than 3 percent. Afterpay owner Block is plummeting almost 18 percent after being accused of fraud by a short-selling company Hindenburg.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are losing almost 1 percent each, while Westpac is edging down 0.5 percent and National Australia Bank is declining almost 2 percent.

Gold miners are mostly higher. Northern Star Resources is edging up 0.4 percent, Newcrest Mining is gaining almost 1 percent, Evolution Mining is up more than 1 percent and Resolute Mining is advancing almost 3 percent. Gold Road Resources is flat.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia slipped into contraction territory in March, the preliminary survey from Judo Bank revealed on Friday with a manufacturing PMI score of 48.7. That's down from 50.5 in February, and it slips beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite PMI fell from 50.7 to 48.2 and the composite index sank from 50.6 to 48.1.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.668 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher in early trading on Thursday but gave back ground over the course of the trading session. The major averages pulled back well off their best levels but recovered going into the close to end the day in positive territory.

The major averages all closed higher on the day, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a standout gain. While the Nasdaq jumped 117.44 points or 1.0 percent to 11,787.40, the S&P 500 rose 11.75 points or 0.3 percent to 3,948.72 and the Dow edged up 76.14 points or 0.2 percent to 32,105.25.

The major European markets finished the day mixed. While the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower Thursday on concerns the interest rate hikes by several central banks could slow down economic growth and impact the outlook for energy demand. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for May ended lower by $0.94 or 1.3 percent at $69.96 a barrel.

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