Australia: Shares jump on mining boost; Westpac falls on profit drop

AUSTRALIAN shares ticked higher on Monday, lifted by mining and energy stocks on strong commodity prices, with a mixed US jobs data report last week raising investor hopes the Federal Reserve could adopt a less aggressive tightening path going forward.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3 per cent at 6,914.7, as of 2335 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.5 per cent on Friday, posting a second straight weekly gain.

Strong prices for commodities including iron ore and oil pushed heavyweight Australian mining and energy stocks higher, keeping the benchmark index in the positive territory and offsetting losses by Westpac Banking Corp.

On Friday, Wall Street closed higher as sentiment improved on indications from the jobs report that the Fed could have room to downsize its interest rate hikes from next month.

Back in Sydney, mining stocks gained 3 per cent on a rise in iron ore prices, as hopes of China reopening from stringent Covid-19 curbs persist. Index majors Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group all rose between 2.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent.

Shares of miner Coronado Global Resources fell as much as 8.1 per cent, after it ended talks with Peabody Energy Corp for a potential merger.

Local energy stocks also jumped 1.2 per cent after oil prices extended gains on Friday. Santos Ltd and Woodside Energy gained 0.8 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.

Financials fell 1 per cent, with No.3 lender Westpac Banking Corp down 3 per cent after it reported lower annual profit.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group also lost more than 3.5 per cent, trading ex-dividend.

Medibank Private in an update on its cyberattack said it will not pay ransom to hackers responsible for theft of around 9.7 million customers' data. Medibank shares were up as much as 0.5 per cent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.35 per cent to 11,270.3. REUTERS

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