(Updates to close)
March 6 Australian shares ended slightly higher
on Monday, as gains in materials and financials outweighed
losses from healthcare and utility stocks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.29 percent, or
16.899 points, higher at 5,746.5
Meanwhile, global risk appetite took a hit on rising
geopolitical tensions, as North Korea fired four ballistic
missiles early in the day.
The metals and mining index ended up 1.4 percent
after it rose as much as 1.7 percent during the day.
Large-cap iron ore miner BHP Billiton gained 1.6
percent and Fortescue Metals Group ended 3.03 percent
Rio Tinto rose nearly 2 percent after it announced
that it will cut output and jobs at the Boyne aluminium smelter
in Australia, in addition to cuts announced in January.
Chris Weston, institutional dealer at IG Markets, said
"there's still a view that we want to take a fairly upbeat
stance on the mining space. There is growth around the world,
we've been seeing global economic data improving. Leading
indicators are suggesting that trade volumes are going up pick
Copper edged up Monday, supported by protracted disruptions
at the world's two biggest copper mines and a slip for the
dollar, while iron ore futures in China fell more than 1 percent
on Monday as inventories at Chinese ports surged to the highest
in at least 13 years.
Australia's "Big Four" banks gained between 0.2 percent and
The healthcare sector was dragged down as Ramsay Health Care
lost 1.1 percent, while utility sector saw Origin
Energy shedding 0.8 percent.
Education provider Navitas Ltd closed at its lowest
in nearly 16 months as it downgraded the outlook for its migrant
language teaching division.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.25
percent or 17.87 points, to finish the session at 7,178.74.
The index was pulled up by A2 Milk company gaining
4.6 percent and Sky Network Television adding 2.8
The index's biggest loser was Ryman Healthcare,
shedding 3.2 percent
(Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Ambar Warrick; Editing by Richard Borsuk)