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Australia: Shares end at 3-month high on swift economic turnaround hopes

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares on Tuesday settled at their highest in three months, with financials leading the gains, as hopes of a speedy economic rebound from the coronavirus-triggered slump bolstered risk appetite.

The S&P/ASX 200 index returned from an extended weekend to climb 2.4 per cent to 6,144.9 - its highest close since March 6. The benchmark ended just short of the 6000-point mark.

A measure of Australian business conditions showed that activity and confidence last month bounced back from lows in April as virus-induced curbs are rolled back and the economy restarts, though the survey's results stayed in recessionary territory overall.

In signs of a broader global recovery from bruising shutdowns, major US tech stocks helped the Nasdaq Composite Index confirm a fresh bull market.

Heavyweight financials led gains on the benchmark, rising 4.8 per cent with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp leading the charge.

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The banks are relieved that the economy is not doing as badly as initially feared and that investors are hunting for bargains while they still trade at lows, said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday.

Oil prices ticked up on hopes of a rapid recovery in demand as restrictions are eased, sending Australian energy firms up 4.7 per cent.

Index giants Woodside Petroleum and Santos climbed 5.5 per cent and 7.3 per cent, respectively.

Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto were the top gainers on the metals and mining sub-index, propped up by a recent surge in iron ore prices.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 2 per cent to finish the session at 11,298.69, even as the country celebrated the elimination of the coronavirus and scrapped all restrictions.

New Zealand investors are potentially booking profits from the strong gains seen in recent sessions, said CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian.

REUTERS

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