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Australian stocks nudged higher ahead of this afternoon’s deadline for an increase in U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. 

The ASX 200 advanced four points or 0.1 per cent to 6299 as traders awaited developments in the trade war. Barring a late change of heart in the White House, tariffs were set to increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods at 2.01 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 

A turbulent week looked set to end with a second straight weekly loss for the ASX as hopes dimmed for a quick resolution to the trade dispute. Most of the damage was done on Monday, with the index unable to make up those losses during a succession of choppy sessions. 

Calm returned to the market this morning. Gains in energy, tech and resource stocks were partly offset by declines in some of the banks.

A rebound in oil helped make the energy sector the morning’s best performer. Texas crude futures bounced 61 cents or 1 per cent to $US62.31 a barrel, reversing an overnight loss of 42 cents. Woodside Petroleum put on 1.1 per cent, Santos 1.2 per cent and Oil Search 0.7 per cent. 

Tech investors have suffered a nervous week after turbulence on global markets triggered a wave of profit taking among the sector leaders. There were modest rebounds this morning in Xero, up 2.4 per cent, Wisetech, up 1.4 per cent, and Technology One, up 1 per cent.

The big two miners have been in a downtrend for the last month and tracked in different directions today. BHP dropped 0.5 per cent, while Rio Tinto rallied 0.7 per cent.

Westpac was the best of the banks with a rise of 0.2 per cent. CBA and NAB both fell 0.1 per cent. ANZ slid 0.8 per cent

The Reserve Bank this morning cut its growth outlook for the economy, citing weak consumption and declines in housing investment. The bank indicated it would be willing to cut its key rate if unemployment rises. 

Asian markets fought back at the end of a torrid week. China’s Shanghai Composite rallied 1.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.1 percent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.7 per cent. US stock futures followed. S&P 500 futures were recently ahead five points or 0.2 per cent.

Gold futures eased 40 cents or less than 0.1 per cent to $US1,284.70 an ounce. 

On currency markets, the dollar was buying 70.1 US cents.

Looking ahead to tonight, trade talks are likely to continue to dominate headlines in the U.S. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is in Washington as negotiations recommenced. Elsewhere, reports on U.S. inflation are scheduled for tonight. 

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