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Australia: Shares post three-week closing highs on banks, iron ore miners

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Australian shares rose to three-week closing highs on Tuesday, helped by gains in heavyweight financials and iron ore miners, while signs of steadying employment and improving business conditions added to investor confidence.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose to three-week closing highs on Tuesday, helped by gains in heavyweight financials and iron ore miners, while signs of steadying employment and improving business conditions added to investor confidence.

The S&P/ASX 200 index settled 0.5 per cent higher at 6,138.7, its highest close since July 21, in low-volume trading.

Leading the charge, financials rose more than 1 per cent, with the "big four" banks climbing in a range of 1 per cent to 2.7 per cent.

"Among banks there is clearly a little bit of short-covering taking place before Commonwealth Bank's results, along with indications that the economy might not be doing as terribly as previously feared," said Henry Jennings, market analyst at Marcus Today Financial.

Lifting investor sentiment, data showed Australian employment was steady through July, while a measure of business conditions also improved as the service sector rebounded.

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The state of Victoria, which has been grappling with a fresh wave of coronavirus cases, reported a small rise in new infections, boosting hopes that case numbers are stabilising as a result of the lockdown measures.

Among gainers, shares of some iron ore miners rose as futures on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange jumped on falling portside inventories and upbeat demand, with BHP Group and Rio Tinto gaining 0.9 per cent each.

Gold stocks fell over 4 per cent as bullion prices retreated on a stronger dollar.

Newcrest Mining, the country's largest independent gold miner, lost 2.8 per cent, while Northern Star Resources dropped 5 per cent.

Among individual stocks, building materials giant James Hardie Industries soared 8 per cent on steady first-quarter earnings and forecasting a potential rise in full-year profit.

Biotech firm Mesoblast dropped more than 30 per cent after a US FDA committee questioned the efficacy of one of its leading drug candidates.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.3 per cent to 11,645.3, dragged by losses in healthcare and consumer stocks.

REUTERS

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