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Australasia, News

Australia shares rise as strong U.S. jobs data rekindles recovery hopes

By Soumyajit Saha

July 3 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose on Friday, on track for a fourth straight session of gains, after a record surge in U.S. payrolls for June raised hopes that a recovery from the coronavirus-led economic downturn was underway.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.05% to 6,096 points in early trade.

The benchmark index also looked set to rise nearly 3% for the week, benefiting from hopes of further stimulus measures, optimistic data that showed factory activity rebound in the United States and China, and encouraging results from a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Overnight, the three major U.S. indexes gained between 0.4% and 0.5% as U.S. nonfarm payrolls jumped by a record 4.8 million in June.

Down under, the energy subindex was up 1.4% as oil prices rose on strong U.S. jobs data and a drawdown in crude inventories.

Financial stocks rose nearly 1%, with all of the ‘big four’ banks trading higher.

The gold subindex rose 0.88%, led by Silver Lake Resources Ltd, as prices of the safe-haven metal rose overnight despite a rise in risk sentiment.

Healthcare stocks were up 1.4%, with heavyweight CSL Ltd gaining 1.6%.

Industrial stocks were 1.2% higher, and the technology subindex advanced 1.6%.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay hit a record high as RBC Capital Markets more than doubled the price target on the company’s stock and joined Citi in talking up its prospects.

Shipbuilder Austal Ltd was among the top gainers on the benchmark after brokerage Citi said the U.S. Navy’s likely increase of focus on smaller autonomous ships would benefit the company.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 776, while 248 declined.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.91%, helped by industrial stocks like Auckland International Airport Ltd rising 3.8%. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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