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Australian Market Modestly Higher

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session, despite the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid worries about rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Oil and mining stocks are mostly advancing.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 26.20 points or 0.45 percent to 5,791.90, off a high of 5,795.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 23.60 points or 0.41 percent to 5,840.00.

Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are up 0.2 percent each, while Santos is adding 0.6 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is rising 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is losing almost 2 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.4 percent after gold prices rose on safe-haven appeal.

Banks are mixed. Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.4 percent and Westpac is edging higher by less than 0.1 percent, while ANZ Banking is declining 0.1 percent and National Australia Bank is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

AGL Energy reported a turnaround to profit for the year to June 30 and said its underlying profit could cross A$1 billion in the current financial year. The energy retailer’s shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

Aristocrat Leisure said it will buy Israel-based social gaming company Plarium Global for A$500 million. The gaming machine maker’s shares are gaining almost 5 percent.

Virgin Australia reported a loss for the year to June 30, while revenues rose 0.5 percent. However, the airline’s shares are rising almost 3 percent.

AMP’s first-half statutory profit declined 15 percent, while its underlying profit rose 4 percent. The financial services provider’s shares are losing more than 3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly lower on Thursday against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was…

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