June 14, 2019 / 2:53 AM / a month ago

Australia shares buoyed by miners, energy stocks; NZ flat

* Aussie shares set to gain 1.6% this week

* Miners rise to over 7-1/2-year high

* AMP down as regulator slaps stricter conditions on pension fund

By Niyati Shetty

June 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares steadied on Friday as miners rose on stronger commodity prices while energy firms gained on the risk of supply disruptions following attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1% to 6,548.6 by 0205 GMT. The benchmark ended flat on Thursday but is set for a 1.6% gain this week.

Energy stocks gained up to 2.1% as oil prices rose overnight after attacks on two oil tankers near Iran and the Strait of Hormuz stoked concerns of reduced crude trade flows through one of the world’s key shipping routes.

Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search each added as much as 2.6%.

The mining index advanced 2.1% to its highest in more than seven-and-a-half years, and was on track to gain 5.5% this week.

China’s iron ore prices rose to a new high in the previous session on demand concerns, while hopes of Beijing introducing further stimulus to shore up the economy also supported the commodity.

Diversified miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto climbed 1.9% and 3.1%, respectively. The world’s No.4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group jumped 4.7% and was the best performer on the Australian benchmark.

Copper and gold prices also gained as weak U.S. economic data fanned hopes of interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining added up to 2% and 2.3%, respectively.

Financials limited the benchmark’s gains, declining up to 1.2% as the Australian dollar weakened and regulators increased scrutiny on the sector this week.

Mixed domestic jobs data on Thursday stoked expectations of the central bank cutting rates further this year which weighed on the Aussie dollar.

A weaker Aussie dollar and increased bets of a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia weighed on the index, said Mathan Somasundaram, Market Portfolio Strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

Investors looking to reduce their exposure to the currency will sell off heavily traded bank stocks.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 1.6% and Westpac Banking Corp lost 2%

Wealth managers also declined with AMP Ltd dropping as much as 5.4% after Australia’s banking watchdog said it imposed stricter licensing conditions on the company’s pension fund units.

This announcement came a day after the financial crime regulator ordered an audit of credit provider Afterpay Touch Group citing non-compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

Afterpay was the worst performer on the benchmark, declining as much as 7.1%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed at 10,220.92. The index was set to gain 1.7% this week.

Auckland International Airport slipped 0.4%, while Spark New Zealand added 0.3% (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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