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Australia, New Zealand: Shares zero in on Clinton victory

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose early on Wednesday as markets priced in Hillary Clinton winning the US presidential election, although a degree of caution remained ahead of the final result, with gains receding in early afternoon trade.

But by 0205 GMT the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.3 per cent or 16.39 points at 5241.4 at 0210 GMT.

The positive start to Wednesday's trade largely assumed Mrs Clinton would win, so anything undermining that view could drive a sharp sell-off, said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton scored early victories in their bitter race, with Mr Trump winning as expected in conservative Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia and Mrs Clinton capturing liberal Vermont.

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Global equities and Wall Street had a strong session overnight with market participants taking heart from projections by data-cruncher VoteCastr showing Mrs Clinton with a lead in several battleground states.

However, investors could still be on tenterhooks recalling June's 'Brexit' shock when Britons caught the markets off-guard by voting to leave the European Union.

Tony Farnham, an economist at Patterson Securities, said that if Mr Trump won markets could see some sell-offs as investors rushed back into safe-haven assets.

Gold fell overnight suggesting an improvement in risk appetite as the US dollar firmed and investors grew more convinced Mrs Clinton would win.

Major gains were fuelled by financials and materials stocks. The "Big Four" banks rose between 0.5 per cent to 1.6 per cent with Commonwealth Bank of Australia hitting its highest in more than a week. The benchmark financial index rose 1 per cent at 1232 GMT.

Mining giant BHP Billiton leaped to its highest in a year, rising as much as 2.6 per cent, while peer Rio Tinto rose as much as 1.8 per cent to its highest in sixteen months after copper prices rallied on Tuesday.

On the downside, gold miners performed poorly with the benchmark dropping as much as 2.2 per cent, its lowest in a week. Evolution Mining shed more than 3 percent and Newcrest Mining was down 1 per cent at 1236 GMT.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 per cent or 19.84 points to 6914.2 by 1238 GMT. Gains were driven by industrials and utilities with Mainfreight Ltd rising 1.9 per cent on the back of solid half year results, while Trustpower Ltd rose 1.1 per cent.

REUTERS

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