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Australia: Shares gain on strength in gold stocks, RBA comments

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Australian shares rose on Friday, buoyed by gains in gold stocks and the central bank's reassurance on policy measures to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus crisis.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Friday, buoyed by gains in gold stocks and the central bank's reassurance on policy measures to ease the economic pain of the coronavirus crisis.

Responding to questions before a parliamentary economics committee, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said the central bank has not ruled out a separate bond buying programme or other adjustments to its suite of policy measures.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.5 per cent to 6123.1 by 0038 GMT, rebounding from a 0.67 per cent drop in the previous session. The benchmark is also set for its best weekly jump since the week ended July 17.

Gold stocks gained 1.1 per cent as bullion prices jumped overnight on reports of a slow recovery in the US labour market.

Newcrest Mining, the country's biggest gold miner, lost 0.6 per cent after it reported a smaller-than-expected annual profit.

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IT stocks jumped 2.6 per cent, led by index heavvyweights Xero and Afterpay rising 3.7 per cent and 3.6 per cent, respectively.

Sentiment also improved as RBA's Lowe said policymakers had no concerns at all about the stability of the country's banking system.

Shares of National Australia Bank, the country's third-biggest lender, jumped nearly 2 per cent, even as it reported a 6.1 per cent drop in quarterly cash profit.

Energy stocks were the sole decliners, dropping nearly 0.7 per cent as crude prices eased after the International Energy Agency lowered its 2020 oil demand forecast.

Index heavyweights Oil Search and Santos were among the top percentage laggards on the local benchmark, falling 2.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.

As of 0034 GMT, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.3 per cent to 11469.97, pulled down by travel and real estate stocks, as the Pacific island nation scrambled to trace the source of its first Covid-19 infections in more than three months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to announce later in the day, whether a lockdown in Auckland will be eased or extended.

REUTERS

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