Australia: Tech, financial firms lift stocks for seventh day

[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday (Mar 30), aided by an extended rally in technology and banking stocks, as global sentiment improved on hopes of a possible end to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The S&P/ASX 200 ended up 0.7 per cent at 7,514.5, marking a seventh straight session of gains.

Russia on Tuesday promised to scale down military operations around Ukraine's capital Kyiv, while Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status in face-to-face negotiations.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said that though peace talks were supporting sentiment, investors should remain wary of the continuous rise in bond yields which is not a positive development for tech firms.

Australian technology stocks were the top gainers on the benchmark on Wednesday, adding over 3.8 per cent and hitting their highest level in 10 weeks.

ASX-listed shares of Block soared 6.1 per cent, while accounting software provider Xero gained 5.3 per cent, its highest since mid-February.

Financials added nearly 1 per cent in their third straight session of gains. Westpac added close to 1 per cent, and both National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia climbed 0.8 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Commodity-linked stocks, however, continued to weigh on the benchmark for a second consecutive session. Miners slipped 0.3 per cent, while energy and gold stocks also ended the day marginally lower.

"We're seeing mining and energy stocks coming under a little bit of pressure and I think its a mix of Russian-Ukraine peace talks and also the lockdown in Shanghai," Daghlian added.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 1.5 per cent higher at 12,098 points. REUTERS

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