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Australia: Shares hit nine-month high as Biden transition lifts risk appetite

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Australian shares touched a near nine-month high on Wednesday, tracking an overnight Wall Street rally, as a formal green light for US President-elect Joe Biden to transition to the White House assuaged political uncertainty.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares touched a near nine-month high on Wednesday, tracking an overnight Wall Street rally, as a formal green light for US President-elect Joe Biden to transition to the White House assuaged political uncertainty.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 30,000-point mark for the first time as investors cheered the positive developments in Washington and hopes that a potential vaccine will soon be widely available.

In Australia, states continued easing virus-induced travel curbs, with the country firmly on the path to virtually eliminating the virus as new infections slowed to a trickle.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.8 per cent at 6,697.1 by 2359 GMT, its highest since Feb 27, on track for a third straight session of gains.

Energy stocks climbed to an 8-1/2-month peak after oil prices reached their highest since March on vaccine optimism. Woodside Petroleum climbed 4.2 per cent, while Santos jumped 5.2 per cent.

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Heavyweight financials gained up to 1.9 per cent to hit an 8-1/2-month high on prospects for a broader economic rebound.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia tacked on 2.6 per cent and National Australia Bank rose 2.5 per cent to lead gains in the sub-index.

Top miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto were the biggest winners in the metals and mining sub-index.

A continued downturn in prices of safe-haven bullion saw gold stocks take a beating and slip to their lowest in 6-1/2 months, with Evolution Mining and AngloGold Ashanti losing the most.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.1 per cent to 12,696.87, with local shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rising 3.4 per cent and 3.3 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the country's central bank said it intended to resume mortgage lending curbs next year amid rising fears of a housing bubble.

REUTERS

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