(Updates to close)
March 2 - Australian shares snapped a five-day losing streak
with a sharp bounce on Thursday, as sentiment was supported by a
combination of stronger global manufacturing activity and a
pledge by U.S. President Donald Trump to boost economic growth.
In his first speech to the Congress, Trump adopted a less
combative tone and flagged a surge in fiscal stimulus,
propelling Wall Street stocks sharply higher. The Dow Jones
Industrial Average blasted through the 21,000-point mark
for the first time.
That helped push the S&P/ASX 200 index up 1.3
percent, or 71.804 points, to 5,776.60 at the close of trade,
led by financials and material stocks.
Global markets have been rattled in the past month or so as
investors feared Trump's protectionist threats would hurt global
growth, while lack of clarity around economic policies kept risk
assets on the defensive.
"Today they're just bouncing back a little bit and of
course we have a very very strong lead from Wall Street. So the
whole market is carried higher by the fact that there is a lot
of buying out there today," said Christopher Conway, head of
research and trading at Australian Stock Report.
The "Big Four" banks rose between 1 to 1.3 percent.
Mining giant South32 scored the biggest gain on the
benchmark index, adding 9.2 percent.
The ASX 300 Metals and Mining index rose 3.3
percent, snapping a 6-day losing streak, with the world's
biggest miner by market capitalization BHP Billiton
surging 3.3 percent.
The gold index climbed 0.5 percent, despite lower
"Gold stocks had fallen quite sharply in the previous two
sessions on almost no news. There was some expectation that
Donald Trump would say something negative for gold, so investors
sold down Australian gold equities," Conway said.
On the losing ledger, telecom stocks ended lower, with
sector giant Telstra extending losses from the previous
session, finishing 1.5 percent lower, after trading ex-dividend.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index crept up
0.4 percent, or 27.05 points, to finish the session at 7,175.83,
supported by financials and utilities.
Westpac Banking Corp gained 1.8 percent, while
Mercury NZ Ltd rose 1.6 percent.
(Reporting by Sandhya Sampath in Bengaluru, Additional
reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri