(Updates with close)
March 23 Australian shares rose on Thursday,
snapping three straight days of losses, buoyed by the materials
sector and gains from miner BHP Billiton.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.4 percent, or
23.49 points, at 5,708.
BHP Billiton ended more than 1 percent higher, driven by
gains in oil and copper prices.
Oil prices recovered from losses chalked up the session
before, though the market remained under pressure as bloated
U.S. crude inventories dampen OPEC-led efforts to curb global
Copper also recorded some gains, holding above two-week lows
hit the previous session, due to a revival of investor
The market also found support from new bilateral agreements
on beef exports, energy and security, which were expected to be
signed between Australia and China during a four-day visit by
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up
0.02 percent, or 1.72 points, to finish the session at 7,062.55.
New Zealand's central bank stuck firmly to its stance of
keeping interest rates at a record low of 1.75 percent at its
meeting on Thursday and reiterated that it would stay on hold
for a "considerable" period of time.
Gains in utilities and consumer staples were offset by
declines in materials.
New Zealand's largest-listed construction company Fletcher
Building Ltd was the biggest drag on the benchmark,
falling 5 percent to close at an 11-month low. The company has
posted losses in three of the last four sessions after it cut
its earnings guidance on Monday.
(Reporting By Shashwat Pradhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Randy