LOS ANGELES – Australian stocks inched lower in early Friday trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% at 5,322.00, with weakness in miners outweighing mild strength in financials. Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. fell 1.4% apiece, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. lost 2.2% and gold miner Evolution Mining Ltd. lost 0.8%, after copper prices fell to two-week lows and Chinese steel futures also lost ground, according to Reuters. The sector could react to Chinese trade data due out later in the day, as China remains a top market for Australian commodities. Stock in Alumina Ltd. retreated 2.6% after its U.S. partner Alcoa Inc. posted a quarterly loss. On the upside, the big four banks all traded higher, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 0.1%, National Australia Bank Ltd. rising 0.2%, Westpac Banking Corp. ahead by 0.3% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group improving by 0.6%.
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