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Australia, NZ shares enjoy gains after Wall Street's surge

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose sharply on Thursday, led by resource-based stocks, following an overnight surge in US equities that provided some post-Christmas cheer for investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 1.9 per cent to finished at 5,597.20 when the market reopened after a two-day holiday. The benchmark gained 0.5 per cent on Monday.

Wall Street saw a buying frenzy overnight as markets latched on to upbeat US data and efforts by the Trump administration to soothe battered equities.

A White House official said on Wednesday that Fed chairman Jerome Powell's job was not in jeopardy, just days after US President Donald Trump described the Federal Reserve as the "only problem" to the US.

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Australia's metals and mining index gained 1.7 per cent to its highest closing level since Nov 12. Copper prices recovered from their lowest in three months while prices for coal and coking coal rose in China, the biggest importer of Australian minerals.

Shares of mining giant BHP Group Ltd rose 1.9 per cent while those of South32 Ltd advanced 3.4 per cent.

Energy stocks soared 3.2 per cent after a overnight surge saw oil prices post their strongest daily gain in more than two years. However, worries of oversupply and slackening demand continued to put pressure on markets.

Oil & gas explorer Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 4.2 per cent, while peers Santos Ltd and Oil Search Ltd advanced 3.1 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.

Australia's "Big Four" banks gained between 1.4 per cent and 2.5 per cent.

The biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, rose 2.5 per cent and National Australia Bank Ltd advanced 1.9 per cent.

For the day, the financial stocks index was up 1.8 per cent. For the year, during which banks were embroiled in a public inquiry after revelations of misconduct, the index is down 17 per cent.

Healthcare stocks also clocked significant gains, with index heavyweight CSL Ltd jumping 3.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.689 per cent or 60.01 points to finish the session at 8,774.52.

Auckland International Airport Ltd gained 2.4 per cent and a2 Milk rose 2.6 per cent.

REUTERS