| March 29
March 29 Australian shares soared to their
highest in almost two years on Wednesday, tracking overnight
gains on Wall Street, as U.S. consumer confidence surged to a
Cyclical sectors led the way after the strong consumer
confidence data boosted investor views that the U.S. economy is
on its way to stronger growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 percent, or 40.766
points to 5,862 by 0040 GMT, its highest since May 5, 2015.
The market was driven by "strong trading on consumer
confidence last night, which does provide a good base for
consumer spending and growth in the U.S. economy over the next
few months," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC
The market also "saw stabilisation in commodity prices last
night" leading to "some recovery in the energy stocks and
Materials gained following a rise in copper prices on
Tuesday as hopes that U.S. President Donald Trump would shift
focus away from his failed healthcare reform bill to economic
stimulus lifted stocks and the dollar.
Chinese steel rebar prices also advanced on Tuesday,
providing iron ore prices a brief lift after their worst day in
months at the previous session.
The mining sector benchmark climbed 0.6 percent,
with heavyweights Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals
rising more than one percent each.
BHP Billiton edged up 0.7 percent.
Australia's energy index hit its highest in more
than a month, driven by gains in oil prices.
Oil added as much as 2 percent on Tuesday after a severe
disruption to Libyan oil supplies and as officials suggested
OPEC members and other producing countries could extend output
cuts to the end of the year.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Oil Search Ltd
edged up 1.2 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
Transport fuel supplier Caltex Australia Ltd
touched a five-week high.
The financial index hit a near three-week high, with
the "Big Four" banks gaining between 0.9 percent to 1.3 percent.
Gold stocks, on the other hand, slipped 1.2 percent,
dragged down by lower gold prices as the U.S. dollar firmed.
Gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd and Northern Star
Resources Ltd lost more than 1 percent each, with
Northern Star diving to a two-week low.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6
percent, or 41.95 points to 7,107.18.
Gains were spread across all sectors.
The biggest gainers on the index were a2 Milk Company Ltd
and Fletcher Building, adding 3.51 percent and
2.1 percent respectively.
(Reporting by Christina Martin; Additional reporting by Sandhya
Sampath; Editing by Eric Meijer)