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Australia, NZ shares advance on signs of Sino-US trade progress
[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed to a near six-month closing high on Monday as investors cheered a possible end to the Sino-US trade conflict, which helped stocks of China-focused exporters such as miners.
Supporting global investor confidence was a Wall Street Journal report that the world's two largest economies could reach a formal trade agreement at a summit around March 27.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 per cent, or 24.7 points, to 6,217.40 points, extending gains for a fourth straight session. The benchmark advanced 0.4 per cent on Friday.
Metals and mining shares rose 0.7 per cent, with index heavyweights BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd closing 1.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent up, respectively. China is the biggest importer of Australian raw materials.
The financial index ended flat, but touched a near five-month closing high.
Lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd slipped 0.6 per cent, while National Australia Bank Ltd added 0.2 per cent.
Optimism about Sino-US trade relations helped offset worries about the Australian economy, after businesses reported only meagre growth in profits and wages for the fourth quarter of last year.
Analysts expect the country's gross domestic product to have expanded only marginally in the December quarter. GDP (gross domestic product) data is due on Wednesday.
Bucking the bullish trend, the gold sub-index declined 3.3 per cent to a close at a more than one-month low. Gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd fell 2.7 per cent, while peer Evolution Mining Ltd retreated 5.6 per cent.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed at a record high, climbing 0.7 per cent, or 61.81 points, to 9,413.49.
a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 3.1 per cent and was the best performer on the index. China is a major market for the company's infant formula.