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Australia, NZ: Australia shares rally on commodities, NZ hits record high


[SYDNEY] Australian shares climbed to a 3-1/2-month high on Tuesday, while New Zealand stocks reached another record after a sudden reversal higher in oil prices whetted appetite for risk assets from equities to commodity currencies.

The S&P/ASX 200 index bounced one per cent or 53.745 points to 5,190.800 by 0325 GMT. The benchmark eased 0.4 per cent in the previous session. A sustained break above brings in sight the year's high of 5,331.4.

Gains were broad-based with energy companies leading the rally after a bounce in oil prices. Engineering services WorleyParsons rose almost 6 per cent, closely followed by Origin Energy up 5.6 per cent.

Miners also gained sharply as a recovery in iron ore prices. BHP Billiton jumped 5.2 per cent to ground last trod in November, while Fortescue Metals Group leapt nearly 6 per cent.

Market voices on:

Rio Tinto added 3 per cent even though it cut its 2017 production guidance from its Australian iron ore mines.

Investors took comfort in the 11 per cent rise in first quarter iron ore shipments and confirmation it was on track for a record 350 million tonnes in 2016.

"In the short term Rio's guidance is being maintained and that comes as the iron ore price is high," said Shaw & Partners analyst Peter O'Connor.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index touched another record high for the fifth session in a row at 6,867.43. It edged up 0.1 per cent or 8.84 points to be last at 6,860.40.

The benchmark has gained 8.4 per cent so far this year.

With few local drivers, investor attention is focused offshore where quarterly earnings are driving sentiment.

The biggest gainers were the New Zealand stock exchange , up 2.0 per cent and Heartland Bank, up 1.7 per cent.

In the other direction, Comvita CVT.NZ was down 1.4 per cent while Sky City was down one per cent.