Australian stocks rose modestly early Tuesday, with banks higher and resource shares lower ahead of Chinese inflation data due later in the day. The S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2% about half an hour into trading, getting some help from U.S. market gains overnight, as well as likely bargain-hunting after the benchmark index lost 1.3% Monday -- its worst drop in two months, according to Reuters. However, trade was reportedly cautious ahead of China's release of February consumer and wholesale price data. If consumer inflation comes in slower than expected, it could be seen as a sign of weak demand in Australia's top trading partner and consequently weigh on Sydney stocks. Financial stocks, among the most heavily weighted on the ASX 200, were the prime support for the market ahead of the China data, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Macquarie Group Ltd. each 0.4% higher, while Westpac Banking Corp. rose 1%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.5%. But the miners were broadly lower, with Rio Tinto Ltd. down 1.3%, Oz Minerals Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 1.2% each, Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 1.4%, and Whitehaven Coal Ltd. down 0.9%. And a roughly 2% pullback for Brent North Sea crude-oil futures overnight pushed many of the energy names lower, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd. off 0.9%, Oil Search Ltd. easing 0.5%, and WorleyParsons Ltd. down 1.6%, though this helped the airlines, as Qantas Airways Ltd. gained 1.6% and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. rose 0.4%.
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