By Soumyajit Saha
July 1 (Reuters) – Australian shares traded higher on Wednesday, boosted by hopes for further stimulus measures to prop up a pandemic-hit economy, although gains were capped by fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.37% to 5,919.8 in early trade. The index finished 1.4% firmer on Tuesday after a senior central bank official said the economy would need “considerable” support for some time.
However, concerns over the pandemic’s economic impact checked gains after the nation’s second-biggest city, Melbourne, enforced the lockdown of 36 suburbs to counter a spike in coronavirus cases.
The gold subindex rose 2.72%, with Newcrest Mining rising more than 1% as bullion prices surged to a near eight-year high on safe-haven demand as virus cases rose.
Technology stocks gained more than 2%, with data centre manager NEXTDC Ltd jumping nearly 6% as it added contracted commitments to its New South Wales data centre.
Metals and mining stocks rose 0.86%, with global miner BHP Group advancing 0.3%. Red 5 Ltd, 7.5% higher, was the biggest gainer on the subindex.
Energy stocks fell 0.4%, with Cooper Energy Ltd leading losses, as the virus’ impact on demand coupled with a potential resurgence of Libyan oil production hurt oil prices.
Insurer Suncorp Group fell 1.2% in early trade after saying it had set aside an additional $62 million-$90 million for natural hazard costs in 2020/21, compared with last year.
On Wall Street, the three major indexes rose between 0.9% and 1.9%.
The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 772, while 340 declined.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.34% to 11,411.7.
Auckland International Airport Ltd dropped 1.5% as it forecast a hit to reported profit and proposed further job cuts.
(Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)