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Australia: Shares climb to 4-month highs, NZ stalls
[SYDNEY] Australian shares climbed 0.8 per cent to their highest in almost four months on Thursday as surging prices for oil and iron ore lifted major mining and energy companies.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 41.1 points to 5257.41 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark index has now climbed 6.6 per cent in just eight sessions.
Driving the gains was a rousing recovery in iron ore, Australia's single biggest export earner, which hit 10-month highs amid a jump in steel prices in China.
"The Chinese stimulus driven surge in commodities continued to rally industrial metals," says broker IGN, noting steel rebar futures in Shanghai climbed over 6 per cent on Wednesday to their highest since September 2014.
"Unsurprisingly, the energy and materials sectors were the strongest performers in most markets." The energy sector jumped 2.5, while basic materials added 1.5 per cent.
BHP Billiton rose 3.6 per cent to its highest since early November, while Rio Tinto added 1.8 per cent to reach ground last trod in October.
Gold miner Oz Minerals was another gainer, reaching a three-year peak after reaffirming its production guidance.
Conglomerate Wesfarmers put on 1.1 per cent after reporting solid food and liquor sales.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was largely flat, inching down 0.01 per cent or 0.71 points to 6,900.06.
Air New Zealand lost 0.7 per cent after the airline announced its March group load factors were down 2.4 percentage points.
Telecommunications company Spark NZ led losses, falling 1.5 per cent while Contact Energy slipped 1.3 per cent.
The New Zealand subsidiaries of Australian banks were the top performers, with ANZ rising 2.7 per cent and Westpac up 2.3 per cent.
Infrastructure company Infratil was up 1.2 per cent after announcing a US$30 million deal with electric vehicle company Wrightspeed Inc.