April 28, 2020 / 1:26 AM / a month ago

Australia shares rise on stimulus hopes, partial easing of global curbs

* Main Australian index up for 3rd day

* Oil, gold stocks limit advance

* New Zealand index hits one-week high

By Shashwat Awasthi

April 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Tuesday as the partial easing of restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus worldwide and hopes of more stimulus from central banks to support the global economy offset another steep drop in oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index see-sawed early on but traded up 0.7% at 5,357 by 0036 GMT, heading for a third straight session of gains.

New Zealand’s main S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 2.5% to 10,674.8 and hit a one-week high as trading resumed following a holiday on Monday.

Shares of Westpac Banking recouped all their losses from the previous session and gained 4.5%, despite the lender saying it would take a A$1.6 billion charge in the first half due to the pandemic.

After weeks of lockdown to contain the virus outbreak brought economic activity to a grinding halt, countries including Italy and New Zealand as well as several U.S. states have announced plans to lift restrictions in a phased manner.

Hopes for further stimulus got a boost after the Bank of Japan on Monday expanded monetary stimulus and pledged to buy an unlimited amount of bonds. The European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve will meet later this week.

“The overwhelming policy response to cushion the coronavirus shock is set to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, but execution is key,” strategists at BlackRock Investment Institute wrote.

“Execution is a risk, but if successful, the cumulative impact of the virus should be well below that seen in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis despite the historic scale of the initial shock.”

Crude oil prices plunged again after a historic rout last week, with Brent crude falling below $20 a barrel overnight and U.S. crude shedding 25% amid persisting worries of crimped demand leading to a gross oversupply.

An index of Australian energy stocks, which has been particularly volatile since crude prices traded negative for the first time ever last week, underperformed the broader market and gave up 0.5%.

“For the next week or so, the pressure on global storage capacity for oil and oil products remains in focus despite optimistic news key economies could begin opening soon,” said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp.

Bullion prices were hit as risk sentiment improved, leading a sub-index of gold stocks down 2.6%. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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