November 22, 2017 / 2:11 AM / 21 days ago

Australian shares tick up on materials, oil; NZ flat

Nov 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares ticked up on Wednesday, with rising prices for oil and metals supporting the energy and materials indexes.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.5 percent or 27.98 points to 5,991.50 by 0153 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Tuesday.

Nine of the exchange’s 10 sectors traded positively.

The Australian metals and mining index rose 1.2 percent, with heavyweight BHP driving the gains on the benchmark, while its rival Rio Tinto rose 1.2 percent.

“The oil prices definitely are giving a better outlook for BHP compared to Rio. So, in that context, BHP is the dominant player as far as resources are concerned”, said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

Oil edged up on Tuesday, supported by expectations that OPEC and other producing countries next week would extend output cuts.

The energy sector was the best performer on the benchmark, with Origin Energy Ltd rising 2.1 percent and Woodside Petroleum gaining 0.8 percent.

Chinese rebar steel futures rose nearly 3 percent on Tuesday, registering a second straight day of gains on tighter supply.

Somasundaram said positive commodities trade overnight along with the weak U.S. dollar supported the Australian dollar and the materials sector.

Wall Street also provided a strong lead as U.S. stocks jumped on Tuesday, pushing all three major indexes to record closing highs.

“That was a pretty solid run and despite the risk in the German economy with the election cycle. The market seems to have a canny ability to ignore risk at this point,” Somasundaram added.

Among other blue chips, blood products producer CSL Ltd rose 1.5 percent to a near two week high, on track for fourth consecutive session of gains.

But National Bank of Australia dipped 0.4 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp fell nearly half a percent.

Australia’s top central banker said on Tuesday there was “not a strong case” for a near-term interest rate rise as inflation was expected to undershoot its target for another two years, suggesting that a rate hike is not on the cards for some time.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent or 9.07 points to 8,097.55.

A2 Milk Company Ltd led the gains as it rose 5 percent to its highest in more than three weeks. Medical device manufacturer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd was the biggest drag on the index for a second straight day, slumping 4.2 percent.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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