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Australia, New Zealand: Shares track global rally as Sino-US tensions ease

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares advanced on Friday, as an apparent thaw in the drawn-out Sino-US trade dispute and strong US economic data supported appetite for riskier assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 per cent to 6,641 by 0211 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.9 per cent on Thursday, and was poised to record a third straight weekly gain.

Markets around the globe cheered news that the United States and China would hold high-level talks in early October in Washington, following weeks of uncertainties triggered by a deepening trade war.

Investors were also encouraged by surveys that showed US private payrolls and the services industry rebounding last month.

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Tech stocks dominated gains on the benchmark index, tracking their US peers, surging as much as 3.3 per cent to a record peak. Sector heavyweights WiseTech Global and Computershare Ltd climbed between 1 per cent and 2.9 per cent.

Rare earths producer Lynas Corp jumped 5.6 per cent, and was the top performer on the benchmark stock index, after it signed an agreement with a city in Western Australia to explore a potential initial ore processing site.

Continued strength in iron ore futures supported gains in the metals and mining sector, which heavily export to China.

Global mining giant Rio Tinto added 1.1 per cent, while Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth-largest iron ore miner strengthened 3.3 per cent to an over 1-month high.

Financial stocks gained 0.7 per cent, with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank rising between 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent.

Gains in Westpac Banking Corp were however limited, after it was hit with a class action lawsuit filed against its life insurance and pension unit, which it said it would defend itself against.

Safe-haven gold stocks slumped 3.1 per cent, marking its worst day in over a week, as a risk-on mode dented bullion prices.

Gold miners Evolution Mining and Saracen Mineral Holdings fell 3.2 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1 per cent to 11,213, and was on track to record a second consecutive weekly gain.

Dairy firm Synlait Milk and Auckland International Airport gained 3.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

Meanwhile, shares of Fonterra fell 0.6 per cent, after it sought more time to finalise its annual results, adding to uncertainty around the dairy giant's outlook.

REUTERS