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Australia: Shares supported by healthcare, tech firms; New Zealand up

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Australian shares edged up on Thursday, recouping some of the losses from the previous session on the back of gains for healthcare and tech firms, though activity was subdued on uncertainty around an anticipated initial China-US trade deal.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged up on Thursday, recouping some of the losses from the previous session on the back of gains for healthcare and tech firms, though activity was subdued on uncertainty around an anticipated initial China-US trade deal.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent or 31.7 points to 6730.10 by 0125 GMT, having fallen 0.8 per cent on Wednesday.

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

"The clock is ticking on the trade agreement...If we don't see a fairly substantial announcement the potential for share market disappointment increases," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC markets.

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The uncertainties drove a 1.4 per cent rally in healthcare stocks, seen as defensive plays, with index heavyweight CSL jumping 1.4 per cent.

Some bright news in the tech sector also sent IT stocks up as much as 2.6 per cent to an over two-month high.

Afterpay Touch Group soared 7.5 per cent, extending its gains after announcing a A$200 million subscription by US based Coatue Management LLC and a 110 per cent rise in four month global underlying sales.

A 17.3 per cent rise in Nearmap Ltd following an upbeat outlook for the 2020 fiscal also helped buoy the sub-index.

Investors are now waiting on a host of monthly data from China - Australia's biggest export market - due shortly for further catalysts.

China will release industrial output and retail sales figures for October with the markets looking to gauge the health of the world's second largest economy.

Financial stocks shed 0.3 per cent with lender National Australia Bank contributing most of the losses with a 3.6 per cent fall as the stock traded ex-dividend.

Miners also slipped marginally with the sub-index weighed down by a 0.4 per cent fall in heavyweight BHP Group after the global miner named Mike Henry as its chief executive officer to succeed Andrew Mackenzie, reflecting disappointment among some of the investors.

Shares of iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group edged up 0.2 per cent, after the company said it had lost out in its bid to develop two blocks at the Simandou iron ore deposit in Guinea.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent or 47.34 points to 10,882.77.

Shares of A2 Milk and Infratil rose 3.8 per cent and 1.2 per cent, respectively.

REUTERS