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Australia: Shares rise on stimulus hopes; New Zealand lower

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Australian shares traded higher on Wednesday, boosted by hopes for further stimulus measures to prop up a pandemic-hit economy, although gains were capped by fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares traded higher on Wednesday, boosted by hopes for further stimulus measures to prop up a pandemic-hit economy, although gains were capped by fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.37 per cent to 5,919.8 in early trade. The index finished 1.4 per cent firmer on Tuesday after a senior central bank official said the economy would need "considerable" support for some time.

However, concerns over the pandemic's economic impact checked gains after the nation's second-biggest city, Melbourne, enforced the lockdown of 36 suburbs to counter a spike in coronavirus cases.

The gold subindex rose 2.72 per cent, with Newcrest Mining rising more than 1 per cent as bullion prices surged to a near eight-year high on safe-haven demand as virus cases rose.

Technology stocks gained more than 2 per cent, with data centre manager NEXTDC jumping nearly 6 per cent as it added contracted commitments to its New South Wales data centre.

Metals and mining stocks rose 0.86 per cent, with global miner BHP Group advancing 0.3 per cent. Red 5, 7.5 per cent higher, was the biggest gainer on the subindex.

Energy stocks fell 0.4 per cent, with Cooper Energy leading losses, as the virus' impact on demand coupled with a potential resurgence of Libyan oil production hurt oil prices.

Insurer Suncorp Group fell 1.2 per cent in early trade after saying it had set aside an additional US$62 million-US$90 million for natural hazard costs in 2020/21, compared with last year.

On Wall Street, the three major indexes rose between 0.9 per cent and 1.9 per cent.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 772, while 340 declined.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.34 per cent to 11,411.7.

Auckland International Airport dropped 1.5 per cent as it forecast a hit to reported profit and proposed further job cuts.

REUTERS

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