Australia shares rally, NZ at record-high on China-U.S. trade deal optimism
* Australian shares extend gains to fourth session
* Local iron ore miners bolstered by China demand prospects
By Ambar Warrick
March 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose to a more than
five-month high on Monday, buoyed by reports that China and the
United States were close to striking a deal to end their bitter
year-long trade war that had unsettled financial markets and
dented global growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.7 percent or 42.3
points to 6,235.0 by 0036 GMT and was poised for its fourth
straight session of gains. The benchmark tacked on 0.4 percent
The early impetus came from strong U.S. stock futures after
the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States could
lift most or all of its tariffs on Beijing, while a summit
between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart
Xi Jinping to sign a final trade deal could happen later this
month. U.S. stocks had also firmed on Friday.
"We are likely to at least see a positive start for stocks
and risk assets as Monday trade kicks off," Greg Mckenna
Strategist, Trader, and Founder at McKenna Macro said in a note,
referring to the strength in U.S. equities.
The Australian financial subindex rose about 0.6
percent as the country's big four banks advanced on solid
demand. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
outpaced its peers with a near 0.5 percent gain.
Global miners BHP Group, Rio Tinto and
Fortescue Metals Group strengthened in line with an
uptick in Chinese iron ore futures.
The Australian metals and mining index was 0.5
percent higher, although gains were somewhat offset by a decline
in gold stocks.
In corporate activity, agribusiness company Graincorp
added 0.5 percent after it said it intended to sell its
Australian bulk liquid terminals business to ANZ Terminals for
an enterprise value of A$350 million ($248.89 million).
The country's largest casino operator, Crown Resorts
jumped more than 2 percent despite having its bid to
delay the construction of a Melbourne skyscraper project
Pesticides maker Nufarm was the best performer on
the ASX 200, gaining as much as 10.6 percent as it recovered
from a more than four-year low. Local drought conditions have
dented demand for its products and battered the company's
New Zealand shares touched a record high on broad-based
gains, led by financials and utilities. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index rose 0.7 percent or 67.2 points to 9,418.88.
The New Zealand-listed shares of Westpac Banking
were among the biggest boosts to the index, gaining more than 1
Milk producer Fonterra extended its
recovery into a second session after having touched a record low
last week. The company had on Thursday cut its annual earnings
outlook amid challenging weather conditions.
(Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru
Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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