November 8, 2018 / 1:24 AM / 5 days ago

Australian, NZ shares track Wall Street's post-midterm gains

* Healthcare, information technology stocks do well

* All major sectors trade higher

* Gold stocks buck trend

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

Nov 8 (Reuters) - Australian shares touched two-week highs on Thursday, buoyed by a Wall Street rally after the U.S. midterm elections, though gains lagged the broader surge as investors remained focused on U.S.-China trade issues.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 percent, or 26.60 points, to 5,923.50 by 0031 GMT and was on track to post a third straight session of gains with all major sectors trading in the positive territory.

Healthcare and information technology - the two Australian sectors that have high revenue exposure to the U.S. market - were buoyed by the election results.

While a divided Congress will make it harder for President Donald Trump to push through new legislation, such as additional tax cuts, investors do not expect a reversal of recently enacted tax cuts and deregulation, which helped support Wall Street stocks.

“The view from the equity markets is that election outcome will leave some room for Democrats to put some checks on Trump’s policies and some of the sectors like healthcare like that scenario,” said Damien Hennessy, co-founder at Heuristic Investment Systems. “Australia is not trading with too much conviction and hopefully the focus now can move to the U.S. Fed’s FOMC meeting starting today and also the trade situation with China.”

The healthcare index rose as much as 2 percent with major constituents CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd rising more than 2 percent each.

The information technology index gained as much as 3.3 percent with payments facilitator Afterpay Touch Group Ltd rising as much as 15 percent to become the top percentage gainer in the sector.

Financials and materials too were up in morning trade. Mining behemoths and index heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto rose as much as 1 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Among metals, gold stocks bucked the trend, as the yellow metal is generally less sought after when investors chase riskier assets such as equities.

The ASX gold index was the only sector benchmark trading in the red, slipping as much as 1.8 percent with Saracen Mineral Holdings and Perseus Mining falling more than 3 percent each.

The financial index rose as much as 0.5 percent, with three of the ‘Big Four’ lenders gaining.

National Australia Bank, trading ex-dividend, fell as much as 4.8 percent to cap some gains in the sector.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent or 57.50 points to 8,912.29.

Oil firm New Zealand Refining Co Ltd and dairy major Synlait Milk were among the top percentage gainers with both trading up over 3 percent each. (Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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