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Australian shares end higher on iron ore rally; NZ gains

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday, as strong iron ore prices in China helped material stocks while investors were largely focused on earnings due later in the week.

The most-traded September iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange climbed as much as 6.5 per cent to its loftiest since March 9 supported by strong margins at China's steel producers as Beijing's anti-pollution fight tightens supply.

The bounce in commodities fed into Australia's "material plays" said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

The gains also come despite wider concerns about global trade after a fresh escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war.

However, investor focus is likely to shift to companies' earnings announcements this week, Conway added.

Mining stocks were the main driver for gains on the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which ended up 0.6 per cent at 6,273. The benchmark slipped 0.1 per cent on Friday.

The mining index rose 1.5 per cent, with Galaxy Resources Ltd adding the most with a 3.3 per cent gain.

Galaxy said on Monday its deal to sell certain Argentine assets to South Korea's POSCO for $280 million was ahead of schedule.

Global miners BHP and Rio Tinto rose 2.2 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

An index of the country's financial stocks rose 0.7 per cent, pushed higher by a 1 per cent rise in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Australia's largest lender is due to report full-year results on Wednesday. A A$700 million impairment expected in the results is said to be already priced into the stock.

Wealth manager AMP Ltd is due to report half-year results on Wednesday. Its shares fell 1.4 per cent on Monday.

In the real estate space, Vicinity Centres Re Ltd rose 2.6 per cent after announcing a A$1 billion property fund with a unit of Singapore-listed Keppel Corp Ltd's asset management arm.

Property developer Mirvac Group is scheduled to report full-year results on Thursday and ended Monday 1.3 per cent higher.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.4 per cent at 8,903.13.

New Zealand shares of dairy firm a2 Milk Company supported the main index as they gained 1.3 per cent. On Friday, a2 announced a higher stake in dairy processor Synlait Milk Ltd , whose shares recovered from early losses on Monday to trade about flat.


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