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Australia: Shares rise as coronavirus curbs ease in Victoria; New Zealand flat

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Australian shares gained on Monday after Victoria state eased its months-long coronavirus lockdown and as US officials said a new stimulus package could be passed before presidential elections.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares gained on Monday after Victoria state eased its months-long coronavirus lockdown and as US officials said a new stimulus package could be passed before presidential elections.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8 per cent or 46.7 points to 6,223.20 by 2336 GMT, led by miners and financials. The benchmark fell 0.5 per cent on Friday.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state which was at the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak, will see more freedom of movement as of Monday, with the state government eyeing a reopening of restaurants and retail stores by Nov 1.

Global sentiment improved after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was optimistic that a legislation on coronavirus relief package could be pushed through before the Nov 3 presidential election.

Australian metals and mining index, the largest constituent on the benchmark, gained 1.3 per cent. Manganese and coal miner South32 rallied 5 per cent after reporting a jump in first-quarter production.

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The world's biggest miner BHP Group rose 0.7 per cent, while peer Rio Tinto added 0.6 per cent.

Australia's "Big Four" lenders - Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp, National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group - rose between 0.8 per cent to 1 per cent.

The healthcare index was boosted by biotech major CSL 1.4 per cent gain.

A decliner was Australia's biggest casino operator Crown Resorts, which fell 9 per cent to a near six-month low, after it said the country's financial crime watchdog launched a probe into its Melbourne business on suspicions of money-laundering and counter-terrorism financing.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark index was little changed at 12,416, in its first trading day since Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's landslide victory in the parliamentary elections over the weekend.

The top losers on the index were Meridian Energy, which dropped 2.5 per cent, followed by Mercury NZ, down 2.1 per cent.

REUTERS

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