April 26, 2017 / 3:37 AM / 3 months ago

Australia, NZ stocks higher, tracking Wall Street surge

April 26 (Reuters) - Australian and New Zealand shares continued to climb on Wednesday, with kiwi stocks hitting a six-month high, after strong earnings pushed Wall Street higher, with the Nasdaq Composite hitting a fresh peak.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 47.017 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,918.8 by 0304 GMT. Australia and New Zealand markets were closed on Tuesday for the ANZAC day public holiday.

The Nasdaq Composite broke through the 6,000 level for the first time on Tuesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 brushed against recent peaks.

Australian markets have tracked the global rally that followed centrist Emmanuel Macron's victory in the first round of French Presidential elections. Macron now faces far-right leader Marine Le Pen on May 7 for the final vote.

"Globally, markets hadn't been sold down much in advance of the French election. The assumption now that Monsieur Macron will win the French election has relieved what was a significant risk element for markets and we're seeing them move in response to that," said Ric Spooner, Chief Market Strategist at CMC Markets.

"We're also seeing evidence of a very strong reporting season in the U.S., and markets all around are responding positively to that," he added.

Locally, financials accounted for more than half the gains on the benchmark, with all four "Big Banks",, , up, followed by insurers QBE Insurance and Suncorp Group.

Oil stocks solidified gains after slight jumps in overnight oil prices lifted the energy index.

Woodside Petroleum rose 0.74 percent, Beach Energy rose 2.4 percent, while Oil Search jumped 0.89 percent.

Mining majors BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.84 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, after Chinese steel futures climbed nearly 2 percent on Tuesday.

BHP Billiton cut its full-year production guidance for coking coal and copper in its third quarter operations report on Wednesday, and said it was progressing its sale of onshore U.S. petroleum interests at two key fields.

The metals index, however, fell 0.38 percent on dips in gold stocks.

Gold miners Perseus, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining slipped 5.7 percent to 4.3 percent after prices of the yellow metal lost lustre and fell to a two-week low on Tuesday.

Safe havens like gold and the Japanese yen fell after a rally in global equities dulled appetite, and induced a risk-on mode.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index jumped 1.44 percent or 104.13 points to 7,327.07, its highest level since Oct. 5, 2016.

Gains came from milk company A2 Milk, which hit a record high after the company said it was seeing unexpectedly high demand for its infant milk formula via Chinese e-commerce.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena; Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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