(Updates to close)
Feb 8 Financial firms pushed Australian shares
higher on Wednesday, in the wake of gains on Wall Street, as the
market remained positive following the central bank's upbeat
tone on growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.52 percent, or 29.476
points, to 5,651.4 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose 0.1
percent on Tuesday.
Wall Street edged up while the Nasdaq touched records on
gains in big tech names.
Australia's "Big Four" banks dominated gains in the
benchmark, creeping up 0.5 percent to 1.4 percent.
On Tuesday, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) stood pat as
expected at its meeting and said it expects the economy to get
to 3 percent growth in the next couple of years.
Industrials perked up, led by Cimic Group which
climbed as much as 9.2 percent to its highest in eight months
after the contractor said it expected a "strong 2017" on
accelerated infrastructure spending by state governments.
Global iron ore giant BHP Billiton closed 0.85
percent lower after contract talks regarding Escondida copper
mine failed to reach a deal. The workers union is set for a
strike on Thursday at the world's largest copper mine.
With a strike expected at BNP's Chile mine, supply concerns
helped copper prices rise, sending copper miner OZ Minerals
up 2.9 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was
fractionally lower, finishing the session at 7,066.27 as losses
in material stocks offset gains in consumer discretionaries.
Fletcher Building, among top losers on the
benchmark, closed 2.8 percent lower.
Sky City Entertainment Group surged 4.2 percent,
its biggest gain in two months.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is expected to keep
its cash rate at a record low 1.75 percent at its first monthly
policy meeting this year on Thursday, according to a Reuters
(Reporting by Hanna Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard