LOS ANGELES – Australia's share market cruised lower in early Friday trading, with banks down after some disappointing earnings from their U.S. peers, and a weak Australian dollar reportedly dampening foreign buying. The S&P/ASX 200 retreated 0.3% to 5,294.10, with National Australia Bank Ltd. down 1.1%, Westpac Banking Corp. and Macquarie Group Ltd. off 0.9% apiece, and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group falling 0.8%, after Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. posted earnings that fell short of analyst estimates. Miners offered some support to the market, however, shrugging off mostly lower commodity prices. Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd. added 2.6%, and those of Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 1.7% after Citi upgraded the sector and named the pair as among its favorite picks, resulting in sharp gains for their London-listed shares. Many other major miners advanced as well, with Oz Minerals Ltd. up 1.1%, Whitehaven Coal Ltd. adding 0.8%, and uranium extractor Paladin Energy Ltd. jumping 7.1%.
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