(RTTNews.com) - The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Thursday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street amid news that the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future.
Investors are also treading cautiously ahead of the release of Australia's unemployment data for the month of August later today. Healthcare stocks and banks are among the leading decliners.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 7.80 points or 0.13 percent to 6,168.10, off a low of 6,160.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 7.80 points or 0.12 percent to 6,276.10. Australian shares closed marginally lower on Wednesday.
Healthcare stocks are lower. CSL is losing more than 1 percent, ResMed is declining 0.7 percent and Cochlear is down 0.1 percent.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent.
Meanwhile, the major miners are higher. BHP Billiton is advancing 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are adding more than 1 percent each.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent and peer Evolution Mining is up 0.2 percent after gold prices gained overnight.
Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices rallied overnight. Oil Search is higher by 0.2 percent, Santos is adding 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.7 percent.
In economic news, Australia will release unemployment figures for August today. The jobless rate is expected to hold steady at 5.3 percent, with the addition of 18,000 jobs following the loss of 3,900 jobs in July. The participation rate is called at 65.6 percent, up from 65.5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7172, up from $0.7098 on Wednesday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid lingering uncertainty about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China. Reports the U.S. is proposing a new round of trade talks with China in the near future generated some buying interest, although traders remained skeptical.
While the Nasdaq dipped 18.25 points or 0.2 percent to 7,954.23, the Dow inched up 27.86 points or 0.1 percent to 25,998.92 and the S&P 500 crept up 1.03 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,888.92.
The major European markets moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 0.9 percent, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices rose on Wednesday after data from EIA showed a notable drop in U.S. crude inventories. WTI crude for October delivery gained $1.12 or 1.6 percent to close at $70.37 a barrel on the New York mercantile Exchange.
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