(Updates to close)
April 20 Australian shares closed slightly
higher on Thursday, as bargain hunters bought stocks that were
battered in the last few sessions.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.3 percent or 17.39
points to end the session at 5821.40.
Banks and telecom sector led the gains on the benchmark
while resources stocks continued to be under pressure from
weaker commodity prices.
"I think there is bargain hunting in the market today,
particularly in the telco sector," added Bill Keenan, general
manager of direct equities research at broker Lonsec.
The telecom index posted second straight session of
gains after four days of falls. Telstra Corp,
Australia's largest telecoms company, ended 2.9 percent higher.
The 'big four' banks ended higher. Australia and New Zealand
Banking Group closed up 1.2 percent.
Meantime, energy stocks finished lower, with oil majors
Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd ending in
Big miners Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals
trimmed early gains to end the session lower.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.42
percent or 30.46 points lower at 7188.05, its lowest close in
Consumer and industrial stocks were the worst performers.
Top loser a2 Milk Company Ltd ended 2.5 percent lower.
First quarter data showed New Zealand's inflation at its
highest in five years.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by
Simon Cameron-Moore; Additional reporting by Hanna Paul)