The Australian stock market is declining on Thursday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and higher commodity prices, with banks leading the decliners. Mining and oil stocks are mostly higher.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 12.10 points or 0.20 percent to 6,094.90, off a low of 6,082.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is losing 11.20 points or 0.18 percent to 6,196.90.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.9 percent after Westpac went ex-dividend.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is rising more than 1 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding 0.6 percent.

Atlas Iron said it will record a non-cash impairment of up to A$100 million in its full-year results after reporting an operating loss in the third quarter. However, the miner's shares are rising more than 3 percent.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is higher by 0.6 percent and Newcrest Mining is edging up less than 0.1 percent after gold prices edged higher.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Woodside Petroleum is up 0.7 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.2 percent, while Santos is down 0.3 percent.

DuluxGroup reported a 9 percent increase in first-half profit and reiterated its expectation for the full-year profit to exceed that of the prior year. The paint manufacturer's shares are declining 1 percent.

Transurban Group's shares are down more than 2 percent after the competition watchdog raised concerns over the company's interest in buying a majority stake of Sydney's WestConnex motorway.

Shares of Treasury Wine Estates are losing almost 11 percent amid media reports that the company is facing a supply glut in China, raising doubts over its ability to sustain growth on the mainland.

In economic news, Australia will release unemployment data for April today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar rebounded against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7518, up from US$0.7484 on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated, but managed to close higher on Wednesday, partly reflecting a positive reaction to earnings news from department store chain Macy's. Buying interest was somewhat subdued, however, with geopolitical uncertainty keeping some traders on the sidelines after North Korea threatened to cancel an historic meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump.

The Dow rose 62.52 points or 0.3 percent to 24,768.93, the Nasdaq advanced 46.67 points or 0.6 percent to 7,398.30 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.01 points or 0.4 percent to 2,722.46.

The major European showed modest moves to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both crept up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures nudged higher Wednesday amid a large decrease in U.S. oil stockpiles. June WTI oil inched up by $0.18 or nearly 0.3 percent to settle at $71.49 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by P2PNews Staff Writer

editorial@p2pnews.com

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