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Australian shares hold onto gains as Fed minutes pause upbeat sentiment; NZ flat


[BENGALURU] Australian shares eked out gains on Thursday as broader global sentiment was capped after US Federal Reserve minutes indicated broad agreement among members to continue raising rates.

The spectre of rising US dollar yields, which along with global trade tensions were at the centre of last week's global equities rout, kept riskier appetite in check in Asia.

Losses among mining stocks were offset by financials gaining, which saw the S&P/ASX 200 index pick up marginally to 5,942.4 at the close of trade. The benchmark advanced 1.2 per cent on Wednesday.

The metals and mining index dipped 0.5 per cent, with global miner BHP down 1.4 per cent to its lowest close in nearly a month.

BHP cut its fiscal 2019 guidance for copper production on Wednesday while also announcing an increase in first iron ore production on the back of strong Chinese demand.

At its annual general meeting in London later on in the day, the miner's chairman said it has not seen a material impact from global trade tensions but remains cautious in the near term. He also declined to give a date over the resumption of operations at its Samarco mine in Brazil.

Financial stocks rose, with the "Big Four" lenders all in positive territory and Commonwealth Bank of Australia adding 0.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the long-running Investa Office Fund saga looked to be nearing an end after private equity giant Blackstone Group pulled out of the running for the office-block owner, unwilling to match Canadian landlord Oxford Properties Group's bid.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little-changed at 8,910.59.

Shares of Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd, operator of KFC and Pizza Hut franchises, jumped 14.1 per cent to a record closing higher after it said it was in talks was in takeover talks with Mexico-based Finaccess Capital.

However, index heavyweight a2 Milk Company dropped 1.7 per cent.


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