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Australia: Shares trim gains after weak China data, resources firms shine

Australian shares posted solid gains for the second straight day on Wednesday, with banks and miners leading the way as investors hoped Beijing's efforts to stabilise its ailing stock markets were starting to pay off.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares trimmed early gains on Friday after weak data from China kept alive worries about slowing momentum in its economy, though a rally on Wall Street and a rebound in commodities helped drive energy and materials sectors higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 per cent, or 33.77 points, to 5,266.5 by 0233 GMT, but pulled back from a 1.4 percent jump in morning trade.

It marked the fourth straight day of rises for the index, which gained 1.2 per cent on Thursday. After a tumultuous start to the week when global markets were rocked by turmoil in Chinese equities, the index is on track for its first percentage gain in three weeks. "We are going to get much more volatility, certainly in the short term," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress.

In Asia, stocks extended a rally on Wall Street after upbeat US economic data helped calmed nerves rattled by fears of a hard landing for China's economy.

China, a major market for Australian exports, remained a major focus for investors after policy makers launched a barrage of stimulus measures this week.

Data earlier on Friday showed profits earned by Chinese industrial companies declined 2.9 per cent in July from a year ago, highlighting weakening momentum in the world's second-biggest economy.

Mining companies were among the top performers with Fortescue Metals jumping 7.8 per cent while major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 5.7 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively.

Energy stocks such as Beach Energy and Drillsearch were boosted after oil prices rose by over 10 per cent.

Major banks Westpac, NAB and Commonwealth Bank reversed their gains to fall 0.2-0.5 per cent.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX50 share index rose 36.54 points or 0.65 per cent to 5,671.44, pushing further away from a near eight-month closing low plumbed earlier this week, as investors picked up healthcare and industrial firms, some of which had sold off sharply in past days.

Ebos rose 0.8 per cent, bolstered after the pharmaceuticals and pet care supplier reported a record annual profit earlier in the week.

Auckland Airport rose 0.4 per cent as investors bought the operator of the country's largest airport on dips after it slumped to a three-month low of NZ$4.75 earlier in the week.

Mighty River Power rose 1.7 per cent, boosted after the power retailer announced a special dividend for the year just ended even as net profit fell.


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