Australia shares climb to 5-month high, financials boost; NZ up
* Benchmark rises to five month high
* Energy stocks biggest drag on the index
* Miners set to snap four weeks of gains
By Shreya Mariam Job
March 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose to a five-month
high on Friday as financial and defensive firms shone, though
miners extended their retreat over the week following a robust
performance over much of February.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.5 percent or 27.5
points to 6196.5 by 0038 GMT. The benchmark is set to gain for a
second straight week.
Property trusts enjoyed an upswing in early trade as a
combination of weak Chinese data and trepidation over the
outcome of Sino-U.S. trade talks turned some investors towards
more defensive stocks.
"Today we are seeing a rotation as of the bigger material
stocks which have been having a powerful run-up in the past...so
there's profit taking from there and those profits are finding
its way to the more defensive parts of the market," said James
McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at
Argonaut, alluding to property trusts, healthcare stocks and the
Shares of property developer Goodman Group, jumped
3.3 percent to its highest in over two years, while Stockland
Corporation Ltd rose 2.7 percent.
All of the Big Four banks advanced in a boost to the
benchmark index, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
Ltd gaining the most with a 1 percent gain to a five
Elsewhere, shares of Harvey Norman Holdings
extended gains to rise as much as 5 percent after reporting
increased half-year profits in the previous session.
Going the other way, energy stocks were under pressure as
oil prices eased with trade tensions persisting and following
news of a surge in U.S. production.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Origin Energy Ltd
dropped 1.3 percent each.
Material stocks also dropped 0.4 percent with global
miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
shedding 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Australia's mining sector saw a strong performance in
February, with its sub-index rising for four straight weeks on
positive developments in U.S.-China trade talks and rising
However, with recent optimism over a U.S.-China trade deal
somewhat diminishing, the index is set to lodge a 1.4 percent
drop this week.
Lynas Corp, among the worst performers on the
benchmark, extended losses to fall 1.9 percent after auditors to
the rare earths producer flagged a material risk to its business
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3
percent or 29.18 points to 9,354.21.
Air New Zealand Ltd and Fletcher Building Ltd
advanced 1 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.
(Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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