Jan 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares bounced on Monday as miners rejoiced on higher metals prices, with the benchmark metal index soaring to its highest in more than two years.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent or 32.98 points to 5754.6 by 0025 GMT. The benchmark lost 0.6 percent last week.
Basic material stocks outperformed thanks to strong copper prices that hit a five-week peak on Friday, while aluminium jumped to its highest in nearly 20 months, after solid economic data from top metals consumer China and the United States fuelled optimism about metals demand.
The metal index rose as much as 1.8 percent, with heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd hitting its highest in seventeen months, and Rio Tinto Ltd rising as much as 2 percent.
Smaller iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals Group rose 2.0 percent and was among the top gainers.
The gold index touched a two-month high, with shares of gold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd up 2.7 percent, and Evolution Mining Ltd adding 2.3 percent.
The yellow-metal was up on Friday, after the U.S. dollar weakened and U.S. Treasury yields came off their highs.
Financials also supported the benchmark with the ‘big 4’ banks rising between 0.14 percent to 0.8 percent.
“We saw good profit results from big U.S. banks on Friday, which helped the Australian bank stocks,” said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist with CMC Markets, adding that markets are waiting for clarity on U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s policies and their impact on bond yields, as rising bond yields could help bank stocks.
Wall Street had risen on Friday after major U.S. banks kicked off their fourth-quarter earnings season with strong results.
Shares of energy firm DUET Group rose as much as 5.4 percent, their highest in more than 8 years after it recommended a takeover offer from a consortium led by Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings.
Oil stocks underperformed as weaker prices weighed on the sector. Crude prices fell on Friday and ended the week 3 percent lower on lingering doubts over the extent of OPEC cuts. Oil Search Ltd shed 0.8 percent, while Caltex Australia Ltd shed 0.5 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.2 percent or 15.22 points to 7062.19 at 0039 GMT.
Utilities and consumer non-cyclical stocks were the top gainers with Meridian Energy Ltd adding 1.5 percent and shares of a2 Milk Company rising 3.6 percent.
For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Suhail Hassan Bhat; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)