Australia: Shares climb for 8th day; NZ hits fresh record

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose for the eighth consecutive session on Tuesday, helped by banks and consumer staples although resources stocks continued to decline.

By 0042 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent, or 27.15 points to 5,234.80, its highest level since Dec 3.

The benchmark rose 1.3 per cent in a shortened Christmas Eve session on Thursday before a 4-day long weekend.

This is the benchmark's longest winning streak since late January and most analysts expect the market to continue the positive trend into 2016.

The index is also set for its best quarterly performance since the Jan-March period.

Despite recent gains, the benchmark is still down more than 3 per cent for the year, heading for its first annual loss since 2011.

But it is expected to rebound in 2016 to 5,625 points, a Reuters poll found.

Both Australia and New Zealand defied a negative lead from Wall Street, which fell on Monday, pushing the S&P500 back into negative territory for 2015.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.2 per cent or 12 points to 6,237.72, hitting another record high as the final trading week of the year kicks off. It looked set for a gain of around 12 per cent for the year.

The "big four" Australian banks led gains on Tuesday, with ANZ Banking Group and National Australia Bank rising more than 1 per cent each. Top investment bank Macquarie climbed 1.5 per cent.

Consumer staples were also big hitters with Wesfarmers , which runs the Coles supermarkets, up 2.3 per cent and rival Woolworths up 1.7 per cent.

Resources and energy shares continued to disappoint with both Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton slipping 2.24 and 2.67 per cent respectively.

Beach Energy and Origin Energy lost 6.6 per cent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

Transurban and Sydney Airport were off 1.2 and 2.2 per cent respectively, trading ex-dividend.

For more individual stocks activity click on Across the Tasman Sea, the biggest gainers were A2 Milk , up 5.6 per cent as investors continued to show keen interest in the company after its recent upbeat guidance. The biggest losers included Meridian Energy, down 1.7 per cent.

Trading is likely to remain fairly tepid, however, given a dearth of local drivers and a holiday-shortened week.


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