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Australian, NZ shares rise as Trump delays tariff deadline

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday as US President Donald Trump's announced delay to the planned increase in tariffs on Chinese imports bolstered global investor sentiment while upbeat earnings also supported the buoyant mood.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 per cent, or 23.80 points, to 6,191.10 by 0034 GMT. The benchmark gained 0.5 per cent on Friday.

Markets globally took note of Trump's latest announcement, adding to earlier gains at the end of last week on signs of progress in trade talks between the United States and China.

Mr Trump on Sunday tweeted that there was "substantial progress" in trade talks and he would push back the March 1 deadline for higher tariffs, and looked forward to a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping to seal a deal.

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Market voices on:

"That the March 1 imposition of tariffs will be delayed is a positive to some extent," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking. "We are following the leads we have got from the US markets on Friday night, which were on positive territory largely on similar news."

Mining stocks led the gains, rising 1.3 per cent, as open trade supports Australia's resource-fuelled economy, which counts China as its largest trading partner.

The trade optimism supported commodity prices on Friday, with copper touching its highest since last July.

BlueScope jumped 9.6 per cent to its highest in more than three months, after reporting a sizable jump in its first-half profit.

Top iron ore miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group were all higher, rising between 0.6 per cent and 2.3 per cent.

In other news, Brambles Ltd rose 8.1 per cent to a more than two year high after the pallets and container company announced the US$2.5 billion dollar sale of a unit, and earmarked most of the proceeds for a share buyback.

QBE Insurance advanced 5.5 per cent to a one-and-a-half year high, after its annual profit beat expectations, despite larger rivals Insurance Group Australia and Suncorp Group reporting lower interim profits.

Elsewhere, energy stocks edged higher with oil prices at 2019 highs, but gains were capped by losses from Whitehaven Coal, trading ex-dividend, and Origin Energy.

Origin said its annual profit would take a hit if a proposal by the government to lower the cost of energy for consumers goes through.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 per cent to 9,319.13.

Synlait Milk was the top percentage gainer, rising 3.8 per cent, however, losses from shareholder and heavyweight stock a2 Milk capped gains.

REUTERS