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Australia, NZ: Shares rise on good GDP growth, US economic data


[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose 2 per cent on Wednesday as investors cheered data showing the domestic economy beat all forecasts to grow at its fastest pace in almost two years in October-December.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 98.948 points to 5,021.200 points, building on a 0.85 per cent gain on Tuesday.

Analysts said the market drew support from the better-than-expected GDP figures, giving a boost to sentiment already brightened by upbeat US economic data overnight.

Australia's economy grew an unexpectedly fast 0.6 per cent last quarter as gains in consumer and government spending offset the heavy drag from a global mining downturn.

"US financials were the top performing sector in the S&P 500 overnight, and a lot of that bullishness has spilled over to Australia," said Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG Markets.

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"We have had a strong performance from the banks, which make up 48 per cent of the index market capitalisation."

"After all this, Q4 Australian GDP beat estimates quite significantly, which adds fuel to the bullish view on the Australian economy."

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group closed 4.5 per cent higher, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd, Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank each rose more than 3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 per cent or 32.170 points to finish the session at 6,313.070.


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