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Aussie stocks rise before tariff deadline; NZ eases from record high

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Friday following a stronger Wall Street, although sentiment was cautious ahead of the Trump administration's tariffs on some Chinese imports taking effect later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent or 30.3 points to 6245.80 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark was on track to gain 0.8 per cent for the week.

US stocks ended higher overnight on reports that the United States and the European Union might agree to drop auto tariffs.

Still, the Trump administration's tariffs on US$34 billion worth of Chinese imports were due to go into effect later. Beijing has said it would respond immediately and in equal measure.

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In Australia, materials stocks, miners in particular, led gains. The mining sector, which makes up nearly a quarter of the index, rose more than 1 per cent.

"A better move in Wall Street means a beaten-up sector here, which has been materials lately, gets a chance to lift its head," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader. "The performance of global miners was amazing overnight, considering what's been going on with commodity prices lately."

Miner BHP was the biggest boost to the ASX 200, rising about 1.1 per cent, although mining stocks were on track to lose about 1.6 per cent for the week.

Mining stocks have been on a downturn over the past few sessions as commodity prices weakened.

Financials were also higher, with the sector index gaining 0.5 per cent. Australia's "Big Four" banks were the biggest boost for the sector.

AxiTrader's McKenna said the Reserve Bank of Australia's unchanged monetary policy, coupled with the Big Four banks' strong fundamentals, made financials a "value buy" given recent falls in their share prices.

Financials were on track to gain more than 1 per cent for the week, after losing 0.8 per cent last week.

Healthcare and industrial stocks declined. Healthcare stocks such as CSL Ltd, which have numerous overseas operations, come under pressure from a stronger Australian dollar. The stock lost about 0.8 per cent.

Airport operator Sydney Airport Holdings fell 1.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, New Zealand shares fell as investors locked in profits following a record high on Thursday.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent or 9.5 points to 9053.39. The index was on track to gain more than 1 per cent for the week.

Telecom and consumer staple stocks fell, with telco Spark New Zealand Ltd losing 0.5 per cent, while A2 Milk Company Ltd shed more than 1 per cent.

REUTERS