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(RTTNews.com) – The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and on higher commodity prices amid lingering trade war concerns. Gains by mining and oil stocks helped offset weakness in the banking sector.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 9.90 points or 0.16 percent to 6,207.50, off a high of 6,216.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 12.60 points or 0.20 percent to 6,304.70.
The major miners received a boost from higher iron ore prices. BHP Billiton is rising more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.3 percent.
In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent, Oil Search is advancing more than 2 percent and Santos is gaining almost 3 percent after crude oil prices rose to above $70 a barrel overnight.
Woodside Petroleum’s chief executive said that the company will decide soon whether to continue to invest in Sempra Energy’sPort Arthur liquefied natural gas export project in Texas.
Gold miners are mixed after gold prices touched a six-month low overnight. Evolution Mining is rising more than 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is down 0.2 percent.
Banking stocks are mostly lower. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is higher by 0.2 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar slipped below the US$0.74 mark on Wednesday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7396, down from US$0.7407 on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday with bargain hunting contributing to the initial strength, although traders seemed reluctant to pick up stocks amid lingering trade war concerns.
The Dow added 30.31 points or 0.12 percent to finish at 24,283.11, the Nasdaq gained 29.62 points or 0.22 percent to 7,561.63 and the S&P rose 5.99 points or 0.22 percent to 2,723.06.
The European markets ended mixed on Tuesday. The DAX of Germany dropped 0.29 percent and the CAC of France fell 0.05 percent, while the FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.61 percent.
Crude oil prices surged Tuesday after U.S. officials threatened sanctions on countries that continue to import oil from Iran. In response, WTI crude rose $2.45 or 3.6 percent to $70.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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