February 28, 2017 / 1:24 AM / 9 months ago

Financials spur Australian shares; NZ also rises

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, bolstered by buying in financial stocks as fund managers looked to improve their portfolios’ performance before the end of the month.

“Financials are doing the 10 point lifting”, said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Markets. “It is the last day of the month, so you do slightly get window dressing trading going on ”.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 26.5 points or 0.5 percent to 5750.5 points by 0044 GMT, putting it on track to gain more than 2 percent in February after a reasonable earnings season. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Monday.

The financial index rose as much as 1 percent in early trade, with Westpac Banking Corp taking the lead among gainers on the index.

National Australia Bank Ltd rose 1.3 percent to an 18-month high, while wealth management company AMP Ltd rose as much as 3.4 percent.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose as much as 1 percent.

The country’s biggest mortgage lender said on Tuesday it had allocated A$1.45 billion ($1.1 billion) in hybrid securities at a margin of 390 basis points over the bank bill swap rate.

Also contributing to gains were energy stocks, as the energy index rose posted its biggest intra-day percentage gain since December 2016.

Engineering services provider WorleyParsons Ltd led the gains with a record intra-day percentage gain, rising to its highest since July 2015.

“It (Worley Parsons) is a big jump. Movement in the energy space is the big one and it is the big standout in terms of what you can see”.

Oil and gas producer Santos Ltd and energy provider Origin Energy Ltd rose 2.4 percent apiece.

On the other side, laundry services provider Spotless Group Holdings Ltd touched a record low, posting its biggest intra-day percentage fall since December 2015.

The company reported a net loss of A$358.1 million for the half-year ended December 31 2016, compared to a profit of A$64.7 million from the previous year.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining Ltd and Evolution Mining Ltd shed as much as 4.7 percent and 7.4 percent respectively, as gold prices fell after tapping a 3-1/2-month high on Monday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.31 percent or 22.21 points to 7101.39.

Telecom and healthcare stocks were the biggest gainers, with telecomunications provider Spark New Zealand Ltd rising as much as 1.7 percent.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd touched a week’s high after rising 1.12 percent

For more individual stocks activity click on

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Shashwat Pradhan; Editing by Kim Coghill

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