(Updates to close)
Australian shares finished in positive territory, supported by
materials and energy stocks, while investors remained cautious
ahead of a potentially tense meeting between U.S. President
Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping later this
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.3 percent or 19.65
points higher at 5,876.20.
"Markets are really on hold at the moment," said Ric
Spooner, Chief market strategist at CMC markets, adding that
investors were looking for catalysts from the Trump-Xi meeting
as well as the U.S. earnings season.
Trade and security issues are set to figure prominently,
with a focus on North Korea, which fired a ballistic missile
from its east coast into the sea on Wednesday.
The materials index rose 2.8 percent, with BHP
Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto finishing over 3
Copper prices rallied as China returned from a two-day break
to buy up metals following brighter global manufacturing
Oil prices jumped to a near one-month high on signs of a
gradual tightening in global oil inventories. Woodside Petroleum
Ltd ended 1.6 percent higher.
Financials remained under pressure, with Westpac Banking
Corp closing 0.6 percent down.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index reversed
losses from earlier in the session to close 0.3 percent, or
20.51 points higher at 7,265.05.
Healthcare and consumer stocks led the gains, with Ryman
Healthcare Ltd rising 2 percent, while a2 Milk Company
Ltd rose more than 3 percent.
(Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru)