November 7, 2019 / 6:20 AM / 14 days ago

Australia shares end 1% firmer on NAB, gold stocks; NZ gains

* NAB announces dividend reinvestment plan to shore up capital

* Zip Co rises 16.9% on supply deal with Amazon Inc

* Xero boosts tech index after posting upbeat HY result (Updates to close)

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Thursday, as gains in gold stocks and a jump in the country’s third-largest lender National Australia Bank offset losses among energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1% or 66.4 points to 6,726.60 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.6% on Wednesday.

National Australia Bank ended 2.2% higher at a one-week high and was among top boosts to the ASX 200, even after posting a 10.6% drop in annual cash earnings and cutting final dividend.

“It is purely relief that they didn’t do a capital raise or cut their franking...the dividend cut was already priced in anyway. The yield is still quite compelling in an environment where you have record low interest rates,” Henry Jennings, senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter, said.

Offering relief, the lender announced a dividend reinvestment plan which will boost its capital levels by raising about A$1.55 billion ($1.06 billion), in a bid to adhere to stricter capital positions required by regulators.

The financial index rose 1.1%, with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia adding 1.3%, and No. 2 lender Westpac Banking Corp rising 0.7%.

While not a part of the ASX 200, buy now, pay later (BNPL) company Zip Co Ltd closed 16.9% higher after it signed a deal with Amazon Inc under which its BNPL service would be offered on the world’s biggest retailer’s platform.

Gold miners rebounded from a sharp fall in the previous session to advance 1.5%. Newcrest Mining Ltd added 2.1% while Northern Star Resources Ltd gained 1.3%.

Technology stocks also clocked firm gains, driven by shares of software maker Xero Ltd.

The stock rose 9.6% after posting a first-half net profit against a loss last year, recording strong subscriber growth and a robust outlook on fiscal 2020 cash flow.

Meanwhile, energy stocks fell amid a drop in oil prices. Beach Energy Ltd lost 2.1% while Santos Ltd fell 1.5%. Oil Search Ltd lost 1.1% while heavyweight Woodside Petroleum traded marginally lower.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% or 35.88 points to finish the session at 10,795.06.

Gains of 2.2% by dairy giant a2 Milk Company Ltd and 1.56% by market operator NZX Ltd supported the index. ($1 = 1.4565 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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