November 14, 2019 / 6:00 AM / 21 days ago

Australia shares rebound on tech, healthcare gains; NZ up

* Nearmap, CSL prop up benchmark

* Gold stocks gain on safe-haven buying

* Financials dragged lower by NAB trading ex-dividend (Updates to close)

By Nikhil Subba

Nov 14 (Reuters) - Technology and healthcare firms helped the Australian benchmark advance on Thursday, though gains were capped on rising doubts that Washington and Beijing can reach a trade deal soon.

The S&P/ASX 200 index inched 0.4% higher to 6,723.10 at the close of trade, recouping losses from the previous session where the index fell 0.8%.

A Wall Street Journal report suggesting that U.S.-China trade negotiations have ‘hit a snag’ over farm purchases unnerved markets on Wednesday and raised concerns a “phase one” trade deal between the economic powers could be delayed.

“Risk-off sentiment continues to linger seemingly on the lack of good news on trade talks with China. At this stage, even date and a location for the trade deal would be a good thing,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note to clients.

Australian healthcare stocks, seen as defensive plays, ended the session about 1% higher, with heavyweights CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd advancing about 1% each.

Technology stocks firmed 1.6% to end at a more than two-month high, invigorated by strong gains among certain major stocks.

Afterpay Touch Group soared 7.5%, extending its gains after announcing a A$200 million ($137.10 million)subscription by U.S. based Coatue Management LLC and a 110% rise in global underlying sales for four months ended Oct. 31.

The tech sub-sector also received a boost from Nearmap Ltd’s 14% rise, following an upbeat outlook for 2020.

Mining stocks erased earlier losses to finish the session 0.4% higher, helped largely by gold miners.

Gold stocks rose 1.6% as bullion prices increased on safe haven buying, following Sino-U.S. trade uncertainty and weak industrial output numbers from China earlier in the day.

China’s industrial production rose 4.7% year-on-year in October, data from the statistics bureau showed, below the median forecast of 5.4% growth in a Reuters poll.

Bucking the trend, financial stocks shed 0.05% with lender National Australia Bank contributing most of the losses with a 3.3% fall as the stock traded ex-dividend.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6% or 63.82 points higher to end the session at 10,899.25.

Shares of Mainfreight and Port of Taurang each ended around 3% higher, both being top gainers on the New Zealand benchmark index.

$1 = 1.4588 Australian dollars Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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