May 31 Australian shares rose on Wednesday,
gaining after better than expected Chinese manufacturing data
boosted sentiment, while a continued rise in financials helped
offset losses in the energy and basic materials sectors.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3 percent, or 15.51
points, at 5,733.40 by 0317 GMT. The benchmark finished 0.2
percent higher on Tuesday.
Consumer stocks and industrials got a lift after an official
survey showed China's manufacturing sector in May grow in line
with the previous month, beating expectations and reassuring
markets the world's second-largest economy isn't losing too much
The services sector, which comprised over half of China's
economy last year, grew faster in May from April.
"The PMI came in little bit above expectations. It has been
sliding over the last two to three months, and the fact that it
has stabilised a bit is a positive for the market more broadly,"
said Damien Hennessy of Heuristic Investment Systems.
Gains in the consumer sector were driven by a 4 percent rise
in the shares of gaming machine maker Aristocrat Leisure
. The company reported solid half-year earnings last
week driven by growth in overseas markets.
Industrials were supported by a 1 percent rise in toll road
developer Transurban Group.
Australia's big banks, whose earnings outlook remains
pressured by regulatory challenges, saw temporary respite in the
previous session after the Australian government delayed the
start date of the first payment of its new bank levy by three
The 'Big Four' banks held their gains, rising in a range of
1 percent to 1.3 percent. Macquarie Group, Australia's
fifth biggest bank, was 1.8 percent higher.
Mining majors BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
were off 0.7 percent and 1.2 percent respectively, while
iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals Group lost 0.6 percent.
The most-active iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity
Exchange dropped as much as 3.2 percent to be down
around 30 percent since mid-March.
Nonetheless performance of manufacturing figures showed
China's steel industry expanding at its fastest pace in a year
The ASX's energy index shed 0.8 percent on lower oil
prices as rising output from Libya added to concerns about
increasing U.S. production undermining OPEC-led output cuts.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was
marginally lower at 7,405.74 as losses in consumer stocks
outweighed gains in financials.
Building materials maker Fletcher Building Ltd was
among the top losers on the main board, and single-handedly
pulled the consumer sector lower.
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(Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Additional reporting by Chandini M