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Australia, NZ: Shares up, buoyed by oil and Fed

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares extended gains on Thursday, while New Zealand stocks were flirting with a record peak after a jump in oil prices and a cautious Federal Reserve underpinned risk assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent or 11.788 points to 4,957.7 by 03:33 GMT, having bounced off a one-month low on Thursday. Yet, it was still down 0.8 per cent so far this week.

The energy sector rallied 1.2 per cent as oil prices gained. WorleyParsons leapt 4 per cent, pulling back from a 10-year trough touched earlier this week.

Beach Energy was another outperformer, up 4.2 per cent, closely followed by Santos and Whitehaven Coal each up 3.8 per cent.

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Miners were swept higher with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, both up more than 1 per cent.

Bargain hunters helped banks regain some ground following recent hefty losses.

Westpac rose 1.12 per cent, having touched six-week lows on Wednesday. National Australia Bank and Australia & New Zealand Bank rose 0.4 per cent each, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia edged up 0.2 per cent.

Financial stocks have been battered on fears of rising bad debt. However, Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said he was not that worried because such concerns were not backed by data. He sees opportunities to buy banks shares.

Telecom stocks got cold shouldered with Telstra down 1.4 per cent and TPG Telecom 1.1 per cent lower.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose for the second day on Thursday, climbing 0.21 per cent or 13.96 points to 6,748.23. It was very near a peak of 6,765.88 touched earlier this week.

Sewing thread manufacturer Coats Group led gains, rising 1.74 per cent while infrastructure company Infratil was up 1.37 per cent.

Casino operator Sky City was up 1.01 per cent and online auction company Trade Me climbed 0.92 per cent.

Auckland Airport edged down slightly 0.08 per cent The company this morning announced that it had established two new standby bank facilities.

Shares in Fonterra's fund, which provides investor exposure to the farmer-owned dairy exporter, were down 2.9 per cent.

REUTERS

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