August 30, 2019 / 6:57 AM / 17 days ago

Australia, NZ shares end firmer as China fires up trade deal hopes

* Australia benchmark ends 2nd week up but loses over 3% in August

* Banks, miners lead ASX

* NZ ends more than 1% higher (Updates to close)

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed more than 1% on Friday, led by gains in miners and banks as investors were cheered by signs of a thaw in stalled Sino-U.S. trade talks.

Australia’s S&P 200 index closed higher for a second straight week. It climbed 1.5%, or 96.8 points, to end at 6,604.2 on the day.

China’s commerce ministry said a September round of meetings was being discussed with Washington, but added it was important for Washington to cancel a tariff increase.

Investors also looked to China’s official manufacturing survey, expected over the weekend, which would provide a good gauge of the real impact from the Sino-U.S. trade war.

However, Australia’s benchmark saw its worst monthly loss since October and fell over 3% in August, a month dominated by several trade war flare-ups and global recessions fears.

Positive trade salvo helped mining stocks tack on 1.6% for the day.

Resources, especially iron ore, is the top revenue-earner for Australia as China is the biggest buyer of these exports. The country’s commodities firms are thus sensitive to developments in U.S.-China trade talks.

Iron ore miners BHP Group Ltd, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals rose between 2.2% and 4.2%.

Heavyweight banking stocks led gains on the main index, with the “Big Four” notching up between 1% and 2.1%.

High-growth technology units also ended nearly 2%higher, mirroring trade-sensitive Wall Street peers.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Touch Group Ltd closed at a record high, after stellar U.S. growth numbers it posted this week provided added impetus.

Blue-chip healthcare stocks also benefited from improved risk sentiment, with biotherapeutics firm CSL Ltd and hearing implant maker Cochlear Ltd jumping 2.3% and 2.2%, respectively.

While signs of easing trade tensions placated recession fears, it weighed on the safe-haven appeal of gold stocks and sent them 0.9% lower, the only sector that ended in the red.

Gold miner Evolution Mining declined 1%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark index surged 1.7%, or 177.13 points, to 10,757.2. It added 1.3% this week, its best weekly gain since late June.

Vista Group International Ltd, a software developer for the film industry, added 4.9% and was the top gainer on the benchmark.

Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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