| April 21
April 21 Australian shares gained on Friday as
miners bounced back on higher metal prices, while financials and
utility stocks rounded off a relatively solid morning session.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose for the second day in a
row, up 0.76 percent, or 44.11 points, to 5865.5 by 0245 GMT.
The benchmark however was on track for a weekly fall.
A recovery in prices of iron ore and steel futures in China,
Australia's major trading partner, reinvigorated material
stocks, which were under pressure on worries about a growing
Base metal prices gained on Thursday as investors,
speculators and consumers resumed buying after recent losses,
expecting increased seasonal demand.
The market was also supported by Wall Street, which rallied
overnight on strong corporate earnings, and as traders cheered
news that the U.S. tax reform is finally underway.
"It is very much a story of miners and banks today," said
Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress in Sydney.
Positioning ahead of banks' earnings underpinned financial
stocks, he said.
Materials and financials were the top perfomers on the
benchmark. Big miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
rose to more than a one-week high. Nickel miner Western
Areas was the top gainer on the metal index, rising 8.1
Financial stocks traded higher for a second session, with
the 'big four' banks rising between 0.8 percent-1.3 percent at
Utility shares complemented the gains, with shares of DUET
Group surging to its highest level in 8-1/2 years.
DUET said the Australian government gave the green light to
the company's $5.5 billion takeover by Cheung Kong
Infrastructure (CKI) consortium.
There had been concerns the government could reject the deal
after it last year blocked CKI from buying a state-owned power
grid, Ausgrid, on the grounds of "national security".
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5
percent, or 37.73 points, to 7225.78 at 0250 GMT.
Consumer stocks and healthcare shares led the gains. a2 Milk
Company Ltd was the top gainer on the benchmark index,
rising 3.5 percent. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd
added 1.3 percent.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Hanna Paul; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)