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Australia: Shares rebound on US optimism, energy stocks down


[SYDNEY] Australian shares staged a broad rebound on Monday as a solid rise in US payrolls cheered investors, but weakness in oil prices weighed on the energy sector.

US nonfarm payrolls increased 211,000 in November, a healthy outcome that helped sooth jitters about a US interest rate hike later in the month.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 49.09 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 5,200.70 by 0028 GMT. It was up as much as 1.5 per cent earlier in the session.

Yet, the benchmark has only managed to reverse some of Friday's 1.5 per cent decline, leaving it back in the middle of a well-worn range. "There is no clear direction or any real conviction in being short or long," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG.

With the year-end looming and uncertainty over the effect of the Fed's first rate hike in nearly a decade, many investors are taking a cautious approach.

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The big four banks were all higher on Monday, led by a 1.6 per cent rise in Commonwealth Bank of Australia. BHP Billiton climbed 0.8 per cent.

The notable underperformer was the oil & gas sector, which remained under a cloud after OPEC members failed to agree on a production ceiling, meaning supply could continue to depress oil prices.

Santos fell 7.1 per cent, while Woodside Petroleum slipped 1.7 per cent.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index was relatively flat after falling 0.5 per cent in Friday's session. The benchmark inched up 0.03 per cent, or 1.81 points, to 6,096.63.

New Zealand subsidiaries of Australian banks were among the biggest gainers, with Westpac rising 1.2 per cent.

Telecommunication company Spark NZ eased 0.3 per cent after announcing it was acquiring privately-owned IT infrastructure company CCL.

Contact Energy fell more than 5.0 per cent to its lowest in over a year after the electricity company said its commercial and industrial sales volume for November was lower than last year.


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