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Australia: Shares rise on mining, energy stocks; NZ hits record high

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Australian shares rose on Thursday, bolstered by miners and energy stocks as prices of the commodities surged.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Thursday, bolstered by miners and energy stocks as prices of the commodities surged.

Expectations of an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia as early as June also lifted sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 43.60 points or 0.7 per cenrt to 6,327.80. The benchmark rose 0.7 per cent on Wednesday.

Australia's unemployment rate rose to the highest in eight months while full-time jobs fell in April, official data showed. New jobs created beat expectations, however, all of the increase was led by part-time work, as full-time jobs dropped.

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Market voices on:

"From the RBA's perspective, unemployment and underemployment are heading in the wrong direction. The increased slack in the labour market will not help progress towards its inflation target," Catherine Birch, senior economist at ANZ said in a note.

"Coupled with the soft employment component of Tuesday's NAB survey, a June rate cut must be a distinct possibility," Birch added.

On the downside, broader sentiment soured after the United States hit Chinese telecom giant Huawei with severe sanctions in the midst of shaky trade negotiations with China, adding to rising tensions.

Boosting the index, miners surged 1.3 per cent to an over four-week high, as Chinese iron ore futures hit a record high on robust demand and tight supply.

BHP Group and Rio Tinto shed mid-session losses to close 0.9 per cent and 1 per cenyt higher, respectively.

The smaller Fortescue Metals Group soared 3.2 per cent.

Amid the Sino-U.S. tension, safe-haven gold stocks tacked on 1.8 per cent. The biggest gold miner, Newcrest Mining added 2.2 per cent, while a number of smaller miners also notched solid gains.

Energy stocks rose 2.2 per cent amid growing fears of supply disruptions in the Middle East. Origin Energy gained 4 per cent while Woodside Petroleum added 1.6 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 per cent or 45.41 points to finish the session at a record 10,176.99.

Communications infrastructure services provider Chorus rose 3.1 per cent, while Auckland International Airport gained 2.5 per cent.

REUTERS