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Australian shares end higher as weak dollar boosts export stocks

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed more than 1 per cent higher on Thursday as a "flash crash" in the local currency bolstered the appeal of export-oriented stocks, with gold stocks topping the gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained across the board to close 1.4 per cent higher at 5,633.4. The benchmark lost 1.6 per cent on Wednesday.

Broader Asian shares were left shaken after a rare revenue warning from Apple Inc added to worries about slowing global growth and weaker earnings.

The news sparked a rout in holiday-thinned currency markets as investors opted for less risky assets, but the Aussie dollar plumbing multi-year lows proved a blessing for export stocks in the region.

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The materials and mining sub-index gained 0.9 per cent for the day, with gold stocks claiming the spotlight. Shares of gold miner Evolution Mining Ltd advanced 5 per cent to hit a record high.

The banking index also saw solid buying, up 1.8 per cent. The "big four" banks gained between 1.2 per cent and 2.3 per cent.

Positive sentiment spilled over into the healthcare sector as well, propelling the sub-index 1.6 per cent higher to its best close since Nov. 2018. Shares of biotherapeutics firm CSL Ltd added 2.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.9 per cent, or 78.9 points lower in its first trading session of the year, at 8,732.37.

Shares of Kathmandu Holdings weighed on the main index as they fell 13.5 per cent to their worst close in over six months after reporting a 1 per cent drop in its same-store sale for 22 weeks ending Dec 20, 2018.

REUTERS