March 12, 2019 / 1:40 AM / 4 months ago

Australian, NZ shares higher on China stimulus prospects

* Mining stocks, banks lead gains

* China stimulus boosts global risk sentiment

* NZX ahead on financial and utility stocks

By Devika Syamnath

March 12 (Reuters) - Australian stocks pulled ahead on Tuesday, tracking a global rally and as hopes China would implement policies to shore up its economy supported the commodity sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.3 percent, or 21.1 points, to 6,201.3 by 0043 GMT, recovering some of its 0.4 percent decline on Monday.

On Monday, Wall Street climbed and China’s main bourses clawed back almost half the 4 percent they lost on Friday on expectations of more economic stimulus to prop up slowing economic growth.

“Nice bounce overnight in line with the U.S. markets. Should be a better day today, though for me the set up is still for lower prices,” said Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro in a note. Australian stocks have added over 14 percent in value since grazing a two-year low on Dec. 24.

Financials and commodity stocks backed most of the benchmark’s cheer on the day.

An index of mining stocks advanced over one percent, bolstered by low levels of copper stocks in LME warehouses, which propped up prices of the red metal on Friday.

Global mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Group in turn rose over 2 percent, each.

Energy stocks also rose 1.2 percent, benefiting from higher oil prices lifted by output cuts led by producer group OPEC.

Oil and gas companies Santos and Woodside Petroleum each added 2.4 percent and 1.2 percent.

Financial stocks rose 0.2 percent.

In other sectors, shares of intellectual property services provider Xenith Ip Group spiked as much as 15.3 percent to its best level in over one and a half years after its larger competitor IPH Ltd made an offer to buy it for about A$174.8 million.

Meanwhile, New Zealand stocks also advanced with financial and utility stocks driving the gains.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.2 percent, or 17.39 points, higher at 9,408.24.

Financial services provider Heartland Group rose as much as 1.3 percent while Fletcher Building Ltd was up 1.9 percent. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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