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Australia: Shares rebound on tech, healthcare gains; NZ up


[BENGALURU] Technology and healthcare firms helped the Australian benchmark advance on Thursday, though gains were capped on rising doubts that Washington and Beijing can reach a trade deal soon.

The S&P/ASX 200 index inched 0.4 per cent higher to 6,723.10 at the close of trade, recouping losses from the previous session where the index fell 0.8 per cent.

A Wall Street Journal report suggesting that US-China trade negotiations have "hit a snag" over farm purchases unnerved markets on Wednesday and raised concerns a "phase one" trade deal between the economic powers could be delayed.

"Risk-off sentiment continues to linger seemingly on the lack of good news on trade talks with China. At this stage, even date and a location for the trade deal would be a good thing," Stephen Innes, Asia-Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note to clients.

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Australian healthcare stocks, seen as defensive plays, ended the session about 1 per cent higher, with heavyweights CSL and Cochlear advancing about 1 per cent each.

Technology stocks firmed 1.6 per cent to end at a more than two-month high, invigorated by strong gains among certain major stocks.

Afterpay Touch Group soared 7.5 per cent, extending its gains after announcing a A$200 million (S$185.4 million) subscription by US based Coatue Management and a 110 per cent rise in global underlying sales for four months ended Oct 31.

The tech sub-sector also received a boost from Nearmap's 14 per cent rise, following an upbeat outlook for 2020.

Mining stocks erased earlier losses to finish the session 0.4 per cent higher, helped largely by gold miners.

Gold stocks rose 1.6 per cent as bullion prices increased on safe haven buying, following Sino-US trade uncertainty and weak industrial output numbers from China earlier in the day.

China's industrial production rose 4.7 per cent year on year in October, data from the statistics bureau showed, below the median forecast of 5.4 per cent growth in a Reuters poll.

Bucking the trend, financial stocks shed 0.05 per cent with lender National Australia Bank contributing most of the losses with a 3.3 per cent fall as the stock traded ex-dividend.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 per cent or 63.82 points higher to end the session at 10,899.25.

Shares of Mainfreight and Port of Taurang each ended around 3 per cent higher, both being top gainers on the New Zealand benchmark index.