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Australia: Shares climb on miners' gains, solid China trade data

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Australian shares rose on Thursday, helped by mining stocks and surprisingly solid July trade numbers out of top trading partner China.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Thursday, helped by mining stocks and surprisingly solid July trade numbers out of top trading partner China.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 48.6 points, or 0.8 per cent higher, at 6,568.1. The index advanced 0.6 per cent on Wednesday

China's July export and import data came in better than expected, suggesting some resilience to the drawn-out Sino-US tariff struggle. Beijing also helped sentiment by fixing the yuan's midpoint level for Thursday at a firmer level than the feared.

The yuan fix is "the number one game in town and will continue to dictate the pace of play for risk assets over the near term," Stephen Innes, managing partner at financial services firm VM Markets Pte Ltd said in a note.

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Australian lithium miners surged and led gains on the benchmark. Galaxy Resources jumped 10.9 per cent and Pilbara Minerals climbed 8.2 per cent.

This followed sharp overnight gains for Albemarle Corp , the world's largest lithium producer, after it beat quarterly profit estimates and raised its 2019 adjusted profit forecast on Wednesday.

Domestic nickel miners also had a field day after London nickel touched a 16-month high and Shanghai nickel hit a record amid worries that major supplier Indonesia could soon ban ore exports.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.8 per cent higher at 10,874.3. It gained 1.9 per cent the day earlier after the central bank's surprisingly large 50 basis point rate cut.

REUTERS