Australian shares snap 4 days of losses as miners gain; NZ up
* Financials fall for 5th straight session
* CBA halts wealth, mortgage demerger plans
* Mining stocks gain for 3rd day
(Updates to close)
March 14 (Reuters) - Mining and energy stocks pushed
Australian shares higher on Thursday, while financials capped
gains as regulatory uncertainty around mortgage broking
businesses sent shivers across the sector.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.3 percent, or 18.4
points, to 6,179.60, snapping four days of losses. The benchmark
was down 0.2 percent on Wednesday.
Extending losses for a fifth straight session, financial
stocks came under the political spotlight this week
after the government said they would reverse a recommendation on
broker commissions made by a misconduct inquiry.
The decision casts doubt over the mortgage-broking business
model, with the Labor opposition vowing to cap most broker
commissions and ban certain others to remove conflicts of
Amid this political scrutiny, Australia's largest lender,
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said on Thursday it had
halted preparations for the planned demerger of its wealth
management and mortgage broking businesses.
CBA shares declined 0.2 percent, while the rest of the "Big
Four" banks lost between 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent.
The financials index declined as much 0.6 percent during the
day, but pared losses at the close to end 0.1 percent down.
Meanwhile, mining stocks advanced 0.8 percent,
gaining for a third consecutive day, as iron ore futures in
China climbed to the week's highest on Thursday.
Mining major Rio Tinto Ltd added 1 percent, while
iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd gained 0.5
Index heavyweight BHP Group Ltd rose 0.8 percent.
The global miner has stepped up exploration drilling for gas off
Trinidad and Tobago which could supply the country's Atlantic
LNG plant in the 2020s, a senior executive said.
Gold miners advanced as prices held to a two-week
high, with Evolution Mining Ltd rising 1.6 percent and
Northern Star Resources Ltd gaining 1 percent.
Energy stocks rose 1.4 percent buoyed by a rise in
oil prices due to ongoing OPEC supply cuts and U.S. sanctions
against Venezuela and Iran.
Oil & gas explorers Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Oil
Search Ltd gained 1.4 percent and 1.9 percent,
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index closed up 0.51 percent, or 47.81 points, to
Dairy products maker a2 Milk Company Ltd was 0.4
percent up, while Auckland International Airport added
(Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru;
Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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