November 15, 2019 / 6:01 AM / 24 days ago

Australia shares hoisted by positive White House comments on trade deal

* Graincorp top gainer on the benchmark

* CSL Ltd climbs to a record high

* NZ reverses course to end lower (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

Nov 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares advanced on Friday, capping a second straight week of gains, as fresh signs of progress in the U.S.-China trade talks brightened the mood for risky assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session 0.9% higher at 6,793.70, capping a 1.04% weekly gain. The benchmark rose 0.6% on Thursday.

U.S. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the world’s two largest economies are getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called “very constructive” discussions with Beijing.

Still, any increase in appetite for risky assets could be short lived, given the very fluid nature of the Sino-U.S. trade talks, according to a note issued by OCBC analyst Terence Wu.

The heavyweight mining sector ended the session more than 1% higher, helped by an increase in iron ore prices. The sub-index marked its first weekly loss since the five days ended Oct. 18.

The world’s largest miner BHP Group Ltd rose about 1.8% to close at its highest in over a week, while peer Rio Tinto Ltd gained about 1.2%.

Healthcare stocks climbed 1.25% to close at a record high, while marking their seventh consecutive week of gains, as CSL Ltd’s 1.7% climb helped boost the sub-index. The heavyweight drugmaker ended the session at a fresh peak and provided the biggest boost for the sector.

Tech stocks maintained their winning streak for a seventh consecutive session, rising nearly 2% to make their biggest weekly gain since early August.

Index behemoth Wisetech closed about 1.8% higher while Afterpay Touch Group ended 4.5% up.

The energy space inched up 0.7% as its components gained from a rise in oil prices on optimsm over a U.S.-China trade deal and on hopes that OPEC will curb supplies.

Major oil and gas players Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search each gained about 0.6%.

Meanwhile, agribusiness company Graincorp finished 11.2% higher and was the biggest percentage gainer on the benchmark after Australia’s competition regulator approved the takeover of the company’s domestic bulk liquids terminals business by ANZ Terminals.

The regulatory obstacles had kept the deal on hold, delaying Graincorp’s restructuring efforts.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index erased earlier gains to inch 0.04% lower, ending at 10,894.70.

Movie software developer Vista Group fell 3.2% and was top loser on the New Zealand benchmark, followed by tourism company Tourism Holdings which declined almost 3% to a week’s low.

Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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