Australia shares follow Wall Street's gains; NZ up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose for a fourth consecutive session on Friday helped by record highs on Wall Street, and after Australia's central bank slashed its near-term forecast for economic growth but remained upbeat on the long-term outlook.

The Reserve Bank of Australia's quarterly monetary policy statement took an upbeat tone on the global economy, noting top trading partner China was growing surprisingly fast.

The S&P/ASX 200 index saw broad-based gains, rising 0.8 per cent, or 43.485 points, to 5708.10 by 0110 GMT.

Wall Street three main indexes surged to fresh record highs on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he would make a major tax announcement in a few weeks. Investors have been waiting for details on Mr Trump's campaign trail pledges.

"It (Trump's policy) is like a Christmas present that can't be unwrapped for a couple of weeks. No one quite knows what it is in terms of Donald Trump and his promises of big tax breaks,"said Ben LeBrun, a market analyst with Optionsxpress.

The financial index tracked its US peer higher gaining 1 per cent. ANZ gained as much as 1.5 per cent, its highest in a week.

Consumer stocks also gained, with retailer Wesfarmers pushing up the sector by adding 1.4 per cent.

Materials also supported the benchmark index, as iron ore futures in China gained further on Thursday, rising for six of eight sessions, with values underpinned by signs of strong demand in world's top steel consumer China.

Mining giant BHP Billiton rose 1.8 per cent even though workers at the Escondida copper mine in Chile, the world's largest, walked off the job on Thursday in a strike that threatens to disrupt international supply.

"We've known about the threat of the strike for some weeks now. So it's been priced in and it's only in one division," Mr Le Brun said.

Miner Rio Tinto gained 0.4 per cent, while Fortescue Metals Group added 1.1 per cent.

The energy index rose as much as 1.9 per cent, its highest since Feb 3 on higher oil prices.

The biggest gainer on the enegry index Beach Energy Limited gained 2.1 per cent, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd added 0.6 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.1 per cent, or 4.65 points, in its second straight session of gains, at 7125.70.

The gains were led by financials and utilities stocks with NZ-listed ANZ stocks posting the biggest gain on the index, up 2.3 per cent.

Contact Energy Ltd pushed up the utilities sector by gaining 0.6 per cent.


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