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Australasia, News

Australia shares mark best day in 2 weeks as gold stocks shine

* Gold stocks up after two sessions of falls

* AMP biggest loser among financials, down over 3%

* NZ shares up 0.3%, Fisher & Paykel biggest gainer (Updates to close)

By Vasudha Kaukuntla

April 22 (Reuters) – Australian shares closed higher on Thursday, joining a rebound in global equities as gold and healthcare stocks advanced, while AGL Energy hit a record low after its chief executive officer resigned.

The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8% to 7,055.40 in its best day since April 8. It had marked its worst session in nearly two months in the previous session.

U.S. stocks bounced on Wednesday after a two-day decline, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq adding 1.2%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3% on Thursday, following a 0.9% decline the previous day.

“The ASX rebounded across the board, led by a strong reversal in the U.S. equity markets last night,” said Brad Smoling, managing director, Smoling Stockbroking.

“Gold prices rallied surprisingly too last night… and Australian gold miners led the charge on ASX today.”

Gold stocks surged 2.7%, snapping their two-day losing streak, with sector heavyweight Newcrest Mining gaining 2.3%, and Chalice Mining adding 8.1%.

Healthcare stocks, which fell for two straight sessions earlier this week, rose 1.7%. Biotech giant CSL gained 1.8%.

AMP underperformed the bourse and was the biggest loser among financial stocks, after it reported A$1.5 billion ($1.16 billion) in net outflows at its Australian wealth management business for the first quarter.

Energy stocks shed 0.6%. Oil and gas producer Beach Energy gave up nearly 2% and was among the biggest decliners on the sub-index.

AGL Energy fell 2.9% to an all-time low after its chief executive officer resigned in less than a month after the power producer announced plans to split into two.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 rose 0.3% to finish at 12,577.48. Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was the biggest gainer, up 4.2%. (Reporting by Vasudha Kaukuntla in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)


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