February 11, 2020 / 12:45 AM / 6 days ago

Australian shares rise led by IT, financials; NZ up nearly 1%

* Information Technology index up as much as 1.8%

* Gold stocks mark third straight session of gains

* Beach Energy hits lowest level in over 5 months

Feb 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose up to half a percent on Tuesday as technology stocks took a cue from their Wall Street peers amid worries about the growth impact from the coronavirus outbreak on China.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5% to 7,049.5 by 2350 GMT, with financials and industrial sectors contributing most of the gains.

Overnight, all three major U.S. stock averages advanced in a broad-based rally, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing at record highs, boosted by Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc.

“Gains in the information technology stocks mimic what we saw in the U.S. tech stocks overnight,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets said.

U.S. investors seem to be increasingly isolated in their optimism surrounding coronavirus, and cautious trading can be expected as the rest of the Asia-Pacific region comes online, with the Australian market giving up some of its gains, McCarthy added.

Deaths due to the coronavirus outbreak crossed 1,000 early on Tuesday. The World Health Organization cautioned that the spread of cases outside of China could be “the spark that becomes a bigger fire”.

Leading gains in the benchmark, information technology stocks rose up to 1.8%, with Xero Ltd and Afterpay Ltd advancing 1.6% and 1.3%, respectively.

Gold stocks marked their third consecutive session of gains. Heavyweight Northern Star Resources was on track for its fourth straight session of gains, rising as much as 2.1% on strong half yearly earnings.

The financial sub-index was lifted by gains in all the Big Four banks, with the top two lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp rising up to 0.8% each.

The energy sub-index slipped as much as 0.4% before reversing course to eke out slight gains. Oil prices fell to their lowest level since December 2018 overnight.

Shares of oil and gas explorer Beach Energy fell to their lowest in over five months after a drop in its half-year earnings.

The mining sector marked its third consecutive down session, with heavyweights Rio Tinto Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group losing up to 1.1% and 0.7%, respectively.

Cochlear Ltd fell 5.2% after the hearing implants maker cut its full-year underlying profit forecast on anticipated impact on demand in China from the coronavirus.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.83% at 11,800.05, with financials contributing most of the gains.

NZ-listed Westpac Banking Corp rose up to 1.3%, while electricity generator Meridian Energy traded at a record high.

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Stephen Coates

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