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Australia: Stocks set for third day of gains; New Zealand slightly down

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Australian shares rose on Tuesday, supported by gains in energy firms and miners, with markets cautiously optimistic for some headway in US-China trade talks this week.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Tuesday, supported by gains in energy firms and miners, with markets cautiously optimistic for some headway in US-China trade talks this week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 per cent or 32.10 points to 6,596.20 by 0055 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.7 per cent on Monday.

High-level negotiations between Washington and Beijing are due to begin on Thursday, the first in more than two months after talks in July failed to yield any meaningful results. The 15-month long trade dispute has eroded global economic growth and has prompted large movements out of risk assets.

"I think it's a common word - 'hopium' - there's a lot of hope that we do see something. However, if you look at it realistically, there's really not a lot that I can see that would motivate China to getting a major deal done," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking in Southport, Queensland.

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"The reality is, because of decades of US manufacturing being hollowed out and outsourced, they're now in the dire position of renegotiating a trade deal with not a lot to offer."

Energy stocks rose 0.9 per cent, propped up by gas explorer Santos Ltd rising more than 2 per cet after it flagged "extremely positive" oil flows at a field in Western Australia.

Financial stocks rose about 0.2 per cent, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the country's largest lender, rising about 0.4 per cent.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.4 per cent after it flagged a A$559 million (S$520 million) charge to its second-half profit from increased provisions for customer-related remediation.

Mining stocks edged up, with metal miners in the lead after copper prices firmed. Oz Minerals and Rio Tinto rose more than 1 per cent each.

However, gold stocks retreated 1.7, tracking a decline in bullion prices as investors moved back into risk assets amid some optimism over the Sino-US negotiations.

New Zealand equities were slightly lower as gains in consumer stocks were offset by losses in utilities.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent or 11.77 points to 10,963.85.

Fonterra, the world's largest dairy producer, surged more than 4 per cent after it named Fraser Whineray to the newly-created role of chief operating officer.

Whineray currently serves as the chief executive of energy retailer Mercury NZ. Shares of Mercury dropped 0.7 per cent.

REUTERS