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Australia, NZ shares end higher; global growth worries persist

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Thursday as oil prices recovered overnight and the US S&P 500 bounced from the previous session's steep selloff, although global growth worries lurked in the background.

Broader Asian shares ticked up after the S&P 500 inched higher on gains in energy and technology sectors, though worries over corporate earnings growth reaching a peak and the Sino-US trade war kept investors on edge.

The S&P/ASX 200 index snapped four straight losing sessions to rise by 0.86 per cent or 48.50 points to 5,691.30 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.5 per cent on Wednesday.

Miners climbed 0.7 per cent to recover some of the previous session's steep losses after iron ore prices gained over 2 per cent.

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Global miner BHP firmed 0.6 per cent, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd rose 1 per cent.

Lithium miner Mineral Resources was the top gainer on the benchmark, surging 26.6 per cent after Albemarle Corp , the world's top lithium producer, agreed to pay US$1.15 billion to form a lithium joint venture with the company.

Financial stocks also underpinned the gains, with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 0.8 per cent and National Australia Bank Ltd putting on 0.9 per cent.

Healthcare stocks rose 2.7 per cent to their highest in more than a week. Sector heavyweight CSL Ltd rose 3.4 per cent, while Cochlear Ltd was up 2.9 per cent.

Energy stocks tacked on 0.9 per cent, recovering from a battering in the previous session as investors took heart from an overnight recovery in oil prices.

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after US government data showed robust demand for refined fuel, however sentiment was tempered by concerns over rising global crude supply.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index broke seven consecutive sessions of losses to rise 0.36 per cent or 30.76 points to finish the session at 8,703.16.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd jumped 5 per cent while Synlait Milk rose 3.5 per cent.

REUTERS