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Australia: Shares tick up on miners, energy stocks

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged higher on Monday as mining and energy stocks gained on higher commodities and oil prices, though uncertainty in the US-China trade war kept some investors cautious.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1 per cent at 6,725.3, as of 0153 GMT. The benchmark gained 0.6 per cent on Friday and is set to end the month higher, following a sharp drop in August that snapped a seven month winning streak.

Trading was light after news on Friday that the US administration is considering the possibility of delisting Chinese companies from US stock exchanges.

"There's uncertainty about what the week might bring... trade remains a key issue for markets globally and locally here," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

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He added that while the news over the weekend was a concern, there was no evidence of a panic yet ahead of expected trade talks between the United States and China later this month.

Mining stocks dominated the gains, with Rio Tinto, rising as much as 1.3 per cent, while bigger rival BHP Group firmed 0.6 per cent.

The rally in miners was underpinned by firmer copper prices, which rose after a private business survey showed China's factory activity unexpectedly expanded in September.

Energy stocks climbed 1.1 per cent as oil prices recovered from a two-week low touched in the last session.

Top oil explorer and producer Woodside Petroleum gained 1.4 per cent.

Shares of Nufarm surged 55.6 per cent to their highest in over a year and were the top gainer after the agricultural chemicals supplier offloaded its South American business for A$1.19 billion (S$1.11 billion).

However, the country's four biggest banks fell between 0.1 per cent to 0.6 per cent, capping gains on the main index.

Markets are pricing in an expected interest rate cut by Australia's central bank on Tuesday to help support the stuttering economy.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2 per cent to 10,860.61.

a2 Milk Company rose as much 1.7 per cent, but gains in the broader market were capped by a 0.6 per cent drop in Fonterra.

REUTERS