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Australia: Consumer, energy stocks lift shares; New Zealand falls

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Australian shares rose on Wednesday, led by gains in consumer and resource-based sectors, though trading volumes were low as a looming deadline for further U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods dampened risk appetite.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Wednesday, led by gains in consumer and resource-based sectors, though trading volumes were low as a looming deadline for further U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods dampened risk appetite.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3 per cent, or 17.10 points, at 6,724.0, as of 0120 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.3 per cent lower on Tuesday.

"Although we have seen gains at the open there is not a lot of conviction in the buying that's going through," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

US and Chinese trade negotiators are laying the groundwork for a delay of a fresh round of tariffs set to kick in on Dec 15, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

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However, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the "tariffs are still on the table".

Trading in the Australian stock market has dipped over the past week as investors refrain from making big bets before China or the United States provide concrete details about their next trade move.

Consumer heavyweights Woolworths Group and Coles Group, considered defensive stocks, gained 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Online travel agency Webjet, which was the top gainer in the ASX benchmark, surged 11.2 per cent after the company denied local media reports citing takeover plans.

Gold units rose nearly 1 per cent as prices of the safe-haven metal edged higher. Evolution Mining gained 1.6 per cent, while Northern Star Resources was trading up 1.3 per cent.

Energy stocks advanced on overnight gains in oil prices, with Oil Search adding 1.4 per cent and Woodside Petroleum climbing 0.4 per cent.

Australia's second-biggest lender Westpac Banking Corp rose 0.7 per cent, ahead of its annual meeting where the bank is expected to face investor rage over a money laundering scandal.

Westpac shares have lost about 8 per cent since the disclosure three weeks ago.

Shares of GrainCorp dropped 0.5 per cent as the bulk grain handler announced the appointment of Fonterra executive Robert Spurway as its new chief executive after the demerger of its malt business.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 25.07 points, to 11,284.22.

Auckland International Airport declined 1.1 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp lost 1.2 per cent.

REUTERS