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Australia: Shares buoyed by resource stocks; New Zealand inches up

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Australian shares rose on Thursday, underpinned by resource stocks tracking higher commodity prices, as signs of robust oil demand in the United States helped ease some concerns over slowing global growth.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Thursday, underpinned by resource stocks tracking higher commodity prices, as signs of robust oil demand in the United States helped ease some concerns over slowing global growth.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.5 per cent or 36.1 points to 6,709.20 at 0058 GMT. The benchmark was flat on Wednesday.

Mining and energy stocks were early Thursday's best performers, with the two sub-indexes rising 0.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said a big draw-down overnight on US oil inventories was "a direct contradiction of the narrative we've seen of slowing growth in the US".

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"Australia is a particular beneficiary because of its higher resources exposure," he added.

Oil prices rose about 2.5 per cent on Wednesday following the U.S. inventories data.

Major miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto were up about 0.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, tracking strength in copper and iron ore prices.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group rose 2 per cent after it reported a rise in first-quarter shipments.

Oil and gas explorer Santos led gains in energy stocks with a 2.4 per cent advance, while heavyweight Woodside Petroleum moved up 2 per cent.

Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd jumped 7.3 per cent to a record high, and was the top gainer on the ASX 200 after posting higher comparable sales growth in July-September.

Given that Australia economic expansion of 2-3 per cent is expected this year, 4.7 per cent growth in JB Hi-Fi sales is seen as an outperformance, McCarthy of CMC Markets said.

Qantas Airways dropped 3.7 per cent and was among the worst performers on the benchmark index after it flagged sluggish domestic growth and a higher annual fuel bill.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining dropped more than 1 per cent after its quarterly output fell. The company also flagged delays at a planned project in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand shares rose slightly, with major energy retailers recovering from steep sell-offs on Wednesday when the benchmark tumbled 2.1 per cent, its worst day in more than a year.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.1 per cent or 11.75 points to 10,865.54.

Electricity retailer Meridian Energy, which had a record fall of 8.7 per cent on Wednesday, clawed back about 0.8 per cent. The stock and other major energy generators had plunged after Rio Tinto flagged plans to shut its aluminium smelter, the largest electricity consumer in New Zealand.

Mercury NZ gained 0.9 per cent and Contact Energy climbed 0.8 per cent.

REUTERS