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Australia shares rise on financials and materials; NZ up on a2 Milk

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Australian shares reversed losses seen earlier in the session to finish slightly firmer on Thursday, with financials and materials leading the gains as investors worked through a flood of earnings reports.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares reversed losses seen earlier in the session to finish slightly firmer on Thursday, with financials and materials leading the gains as investors worked through a flood of earnings reports.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 7.2 points or 0.1 per cent to 5,950.900 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 2.846 points on Wednesday.

BHP, the world's biggest miner, rebounded from losses in the past few days to rise 1.3 per cent on Thursday, boosting the benchmark.

BHP's first-half results on Tuesday missed expectations, although shareholders enjoyed a dividend boost.

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Meanwhile, banks accounted for most of the gains on the benchmark, with the Australian financial index rising 0.4 per cent to its highest in more than two weeks.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country's biggest lender by market capitalisation, gained 0.4 per cent, while National Australia Bank Ltd added 0.5 per cent.

Rising health care stocks also helped cement gains with CSL Ltd up 0.9 per cent to a record high.

Travel and aviation stocks attracted investor attention with strong earnings.

Qantas Airways Ltd rose 5.9 per cent to its highest since December after it reported a record first-half profit and announced a A$378 million ($295.03 million) share buyback.

Shares of Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd rose to a record high on half-year profit that beat expectations, while online rival Webjet Ltd soared 15 per cent as its revenue tripled.

Crown Resorts Ltd, with its turnover boosted by Chinese high rollers, reported a slight rise in first-half profit sending the shares of Australia's biggest casino operator to a near two-week high.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent or 66.61 points to finish the session at 8,266.88.

A2 Milk Company Ltd was the benchmark's primary contributor for a second consecutive session as it surged 9.8 per cent to a record high.

Air New Zealand Ltd rose 1.2 per cent to a two-week high after boosting its interim dividend and saying it was headed for its second-biggest annual profit.

REUTERS

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