June 25, 2019 / 2:45 AM / 2 months ago

Miners take Australian shares higher, NZ climbs to new peak

* Caution over G20, Fed talk dominates

* Mining sector gains led by gold stocks

* Financials are biggest drag

* NZ shares hit record high

By Renju Jose and Rushil Dutta

June 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares clung to tight ranges on Tuesday amid a backdrop of cautious trade before a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in Japan later this week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged 0.1% higher to 6,671.50 as of 0203 GMT. The index ended up 0.2% in the previous session.

China and the United States said last week they were reviving talks ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, adding hopes that it will lead to a de-escalation of tension between the world’s two largest economies.

Apprehensions over Sino-U.S. trade tariffs, coupled with expectations of more dovish talk from the Federal Reserve pushed down Treasury yields and the dollar, while safe-haven plays thrust gold prices to six-year highs.

Five Federal Reserve policymakers are speaking on Tuesday, including Chairman Jerome Powell, and markets assume they will stick with the recent dovish message.

Australian gold miners were the top advancers on the benchmark index with Saracen Mineral Holdings and St Barbara posting gains of 6.8% and 5.1%, respectively.

The country’s biggest listed gold miner Newcrest Mining rose 1.3% to a more than 7-year high.

Mining stocks rose for the sixth straight session buoyed by strong commodities prices.

China steel futures surged on Monday, with construction material rebar hitting a near eight-year high and hot-rolled coil climbing to an all-time peak, on strong demand while iron ore ended lower, pulling away from a record high hit last week.

Miner BHP Group rose 0.68%, while Rio Tinto advanced 1.19%.

“People are taking the view that if we are to see monetary stimulus and if that is going to see a meaningful pullback of the U.S. dollar, we want to be having a look at these commodity stocks more favourably,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone Brokerage.

Financial stocks, which account for the largest weightage on the benchmark index, dipped 0.23% offsetting much of the gains in the commodity sector.

Three of the ‘Big Four’ banks were in the red, with National Australia Bank weighing on the index and shedding 0.71%.

Its bigger rival Commonwealth Bank of Australia was down 0.4%, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group was marginally lower. However, Westpac Banking Corp rose slightly.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand stocks hit a record high rising 0.25% to 10,413.84.

New Zealand posted a monthly trade surplus of NZ$264.00 million ($175.3 million) in May, data from Statistics New Zealand showed on Tuesday, while the annual deficit was NZ$5.49 billion.

Electricity and natural gas supplier Contact Energy Ltd firmed 1.83% and was the biggest gainer on the benchmark index. ($1 = 1.5058 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Renju Jose and Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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