Australia shares end up on hopes of easing trade tensions; glitch halts NZ
* U.S.-Mexico reach NAFTA deal, paves way for Canada deal
* Banks higher as Royal Commission shifts focus to insurers
* New Zealand stock market halted after system glitch
(Updates with market close)
By Nikhil Nainan
Aug 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on
Tuesday, buoyed by hopes that global trade tensions may be
easing after the United States and Mexico found common ground to
overhaul a North American trade deal.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.6 percent to 6,304.7
points at the close of trade. The benchmark rose 0.4 percent on
Investors are watching to see if Canada agrees to new terms
to remain part of the three-nation North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Washington's bid to speed up tariff talks
with the European Union also added to the upbeat market tone.
Australia's financials sector rose on Tuesday, brushing
aside concerns about the next phase in a year-long inquiry into
misconduct in the financial services sector.
The 'Big Four' banks led the way, with National Australia
Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising
1.1 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively. Pension funds at both
banks were criticized at the inquiry last week.
The focus of the inquiry now shifts to the insurance sector,
with 10 insurance firms expected to appear at the hearings from
Freedom Insurance Group ended down 11.5 percent
after hitting an all-time low earlier in the session.
The Australian newspaper reported that a regulator's report
into the direct sales practices of life insurance firms would
"feature" Freedom Insurance. The company and regulator declined
Among other insurers slated to appear before the inquiry,
Insurance Australia Group ended up 1.1 percent, while
Suncorp added 0.5 percent.
In the materials sector, Galaxy Resources jumped
nearly 6 percent after South Korean steelmaker POSCO
sealed a $280 million deal to buy lithium mining rights in
Argentina from the company.
The rest of sector also traded higher, with global miners
BHP and Rio Tinto both up about 1 percent.
Trading on New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
was halted due to a series of glitches, the market operator NZX
said. Trading will resume on Wednesday.
The main index was last seen marginally higher at 9,214
(Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru
Editing by Darren Schuettler)
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