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Australia: Shares gain on mining stocks, NZ steady


[LONDON] Australian shares advanced on Wednesday, as a tumbling greenback sent mining and oil stocks into positive territory.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.57 per cent, or 32.289 points, higher at 5,653.2 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.7 per cent on Tuesday.

The dollar faltered against a basket of currencies and suffered its worst January in three decades after US President Donald Trump criticised key trading partners.

Global stocks remain subdued as Trump's comments led to a risk-off mood.

Safe haven assets such as gold glittered at a one-week high, while materials held on to strong gains from earlier in the session.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd rallied as much as 4.7 per cent to hit a near six-year high, as the world's fourth-largest iron ore miner expected a boost in iron ore demand after China's decision to close steel mills that use scrap metal.

Index heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd and South32 Ltd rose 1.7 per cent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

The country's biggest gold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd rose as much as 3.1 per cent in its third straight session of gains.

Westpac Banking Corp, one of the index's top performers, perked up 0.9 per cent while international investment advisor AMP Limited rose 1 percent.

Oil markets were range-bound on a surplus of supplies. Oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum Ltd edged up 1.4 perc ent.

Senex Energy Ltd surged as much as 8.9 per cent after the oil and gas explorer lined up US partners to fund a gas project, which could help ease a pending gas shortage in Australia's east.

The market also found support from strong property data.

An index of home prices for the combined capital cities climbed 0.7 per cent in January, according to property consultant CoreLogic.

Strong housing prices, however, posed a worry for the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), which had hoped the market would have cooled following the implementation of tighter lending rules on banks.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat at 7,055.5 points, as the gains in industrials were offset by losses in material stocks.

Port of Tauranga Ltd jumped to its highest ever, surging as much 3.8 per cent, while Meridian Energy Ltd rose more than 3 per cent.

Fletcher Building Ltd fell 1.6 per cent, while Z Energy Limited lost 2.2 per cent.

Sentiment was boosted as New Zealand's unemployment surged 5.2 per cent in December, from an eight-year low of 4.8 per cent, suggesting a lower chance of a rate hike later in the year.


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