Jan 3 Financials and materials lifted Australian
shares to a near 17-month high on the first trading day of the
year, with the benchmark topping 5,700 points.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 58.9 points, or 1
percent, to 5,724.7 by 0123 GMT, its highest since August 2015.
The index climbed 7 percent in 2016, its best yearly
performance since 2013, as gains in most commodity prices
powered a bull run among miners.
The financial sector accounted for most of the gains on
Tuesday, led by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
, Australia's third-largest bank by market cap, which
rose as much as 1.7 percent to touch a 16-month high. It was the
single biggest contributor to the benchmark's gains.
The bank said it would sell its stake in Shanghai Rural
Commercial Bank Co Ltd to China COSCO Shipping and
Shanghai Sino-Poland Enterprise Management Development for A$1.8
billion ($1.3 billion).
The sale is expected to increase the bank's APRA CET1
capital ratio by around 40 basis points.
"Gains in financials are definitely broad-based. There are
specific situations such as (ANZ's stake sale) that are clearly
positive - but gains are right across the board," said James
McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at
The benchmark also got a lift from miners, with BHP Billiton
and Rio Tinto rising 1.6 percent and 1.5
percent, respectively. Chinese steel and iron ore prices snapped
long losing streaks in 2016.
Retail giants Wesfarmers Ltd and Woolworths Ltd
both rose more than 1 percent.
Oil major Woodside Petroleum climbed 1.6 percent
while Beach Energy was up 1.8 percent. U.S. oil prices
rose in the first trading hours of 2017 on Tuesday, buoyed by a
deal for OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts which kicked off on
At the other end, the gold index slipped 1.1 percent
after prices for the precious metal eased on Friday as gains
from a weak dollar was offset by profit-taking at the end of a
year in which bullion gained about 8 percent.
Gold miner Evolution Mining fell 1.9 percent while
Newcrest Mining slid 1.3 percent.
Volumes were largely tepid, with 126.6 million shares
changing hands, around 20 percent of the 30-day average of 641.6
million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data.
New Zealand's share market was closed for a public holiday
and will re-open on Wednesday. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
gained 8.8 percent in 2016.
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($1 = 1.3899 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Shashwat Pradhan; Additional reporting by
Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)