(Updates to close)
Dec 19 Australian shares ended higher on Monday,
pushed up by financials and energy stocks after the top three
rating agencies held their triple-A appraisals on Australia,
despite the government forecasting bigger budget deficits for
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.53 percent or 29.17
points higher at 5562.1.
The Australian government forecast a deterioration in its
budget deficit over the next four years, but still hoped to
snatch a surplus by 2021, with hopes of averting a damaging
downgrade of its prized triple-A rating.
Rating agency Fitch, noting the forecast said Australia was
still consistent with a triple-A rating. That view was followed
some time later by the Moody's rating agency, while Standard and
Poor's said the budget update had no immediate impact on
There had been concerns that Australia was about to lose its
prized S&P AAA-rating because of widening budget deficits.
Financials rose with the "Big Four" major banks finishing
Shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia hit a near
one-year high before closing up by 0.5 percent. CBA disposed of
its remaining stake in Visa Inc.
The benchmark energy index finished up 0.5 percent
as oil prices rose in anticipation of a tighter market.
Beach Energy Ltd and WorleyParsons Ltd
were the biggest gainers on the energy index, adding 2.5 percent
and 1.7 percent respectively.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.39
percent or 26 points higher at 6786.25.
Gains were fuelled by defensives and consumer stocks.
Infrastructure firm Infratil and poultry products
distributor Tegel Group Holdings were the best
performers, ending 3.7 pecent and 3 percent higher respectively.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric