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Australasia, News

Australia shares wrap up holiday-shortened week on firm note

* AMP jumps nearly 5% after naming new CEO

* Tech stocks mark best day since March 16, up about 2.5%

* Biden’s EV plan boosts lithium, copper-exposed stocks (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

April 1 (Reuters) – Australian shares settled higher on Thursday, wrapping up the holiday-shortened week on a firm note as investor cheered an end to Brisbane lockdown ahead of the long Easter weekend.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.6% at 6,828.70, with gold and technology stocks leading the gains. Both Australian and New Zealand markets are closed on Friday and Monday for Easter holidays.

Market participants cheered after Australia ended a lockdown of its third-biggest city Brisbane, just in time for Easter holidays, as only one new locally transmitted COVID-19 case in Queensland state eased fears of a widespread outbreak.

“We haven’t been told anything today that we’re going to continue on into Easter, which is really good news,” said Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking, of the three-day lockdown in Brisbane.

Technology stocks closed about 2.5% higher in their best session since March 16, following a tech-led rally on Wall Street.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose on Wednesday, boosted by gains in technology shares, and the three major Wall Street indexes registered their fourth straight quarterly rise as investors positioned themselves for U.S. President Joe Biden’s massive infrastructure plan.

Megaport gained 5.7%, while Afterpay added about 4%.

Gold stocks ended 2.9% higher, notching their best session in two weeks, as bullion prices rebounded.

West African Resources advanced 7.8%, while De Grey Mining climbed 8.6%.

Miners added 1.6%, lifted by higher iron ore prices. BHP Group rose 0.8%, while Rio Tinto gained 1.1%.

Lithium and copper-exposed stocks advanced as Biden’s $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan pushed for investments and subsidies on electric vehicles.

The heavyweight financial sector climbed 0.4%, bolstered by a near 5% gain in AMP Ltd after the embattled wealth manager named its new chief executive officer.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.6% lower at 12,488.31. Vista Group and Stride Property were the top losers. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)


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