October 22, 2019 / 1:16 AM / 23 days ago

Australia shares propped up by miners, NZ flat in thin trade

* ASX 200 gains tracking Wall St., higher commodity prices

* Negative AGM comments hit consumer, healthcare stocks

* Super Retail biggest loser on the ASX 200

By Ambar Warrick

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday as heavyweight mining stocks benefited from firmer commodity prices, although negative commentary from some annual general meetings weighed on the healthcare and consumer sectors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3%, or 17.90 points, to 6,670.40 by 0052 GMT, while trading volumes were at roughly a third of their 30-day average. A public holiday in Japan kept regional stock trading thin in the Asian session.

Stocks were also helped by a stronger Wall Street lead, which ended Monday higher on positives cues from Sino-U.S. trade negotiations.

The mining subindex rose 0.4%, with BHP Group and Rio Tinto, the largest miners on the benchmark, adding about 0.4% and 1.2%, respectively.

The sector was bolstered by gains in copper and iron ore prices.

Financial stocks rose slightly, with three of the country’s big four banks gaining about 0.5%, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.2%.

Wealth manager AMP Ltd rose about 2.8% after its funds management arm announced a $6.2 billion fund raising.

On the other hand, healthcare stocks fell about 0.2%. Hearing aid maker Cochlear Ltd was among the worst performers on the subindex, shedding nearly 4% after the company flagged a lower earnings per share target at its annual general meeting.

“I think these AGMs have just taken a little bit of gloss off some of that optimism we saw coming from the U.S. and other overseas markets,” said Henry Jennings, senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

Super Retail Group plunged 4.8% and was the biggest loser on the ASX 200 after the company flagged lower margins from increased promotional activities.

Retail financial services provider McMillan Shakespeare fell 3.5% after it flagged challenging market conditions.

Oil and gas explorer Oil Search dipped after it cuts its 2019 production outlook.

New Zealand shares were largely flat, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index trading almost unchanged at 11,063.52. Trading volumes were at a fifth of their 30-day average.

The local listings of Westpac Banking Corp and ANZ rose about 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively, while electricity retailers Meridian Energy Ltd and Mercury NZ dropped more than 1% each.

Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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