February 12, 2019 / 1:49 AM / 4 days ago

Australian shares higher, led by Macquarie Group; NZ up

* Macquarie’s reaffirms profit outlook

* Healthcare index rise 1.9 percent

By Nikhil Subba

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday, helped by optimism about Sino-U.S. trade talks and as Macquarie Group reaffirmed its expectations for a record annual profit, which helped support the broader financial sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 percent, or 26.6 points, to 6,087.40 by 0117 GMT. The benchmark slipped 0.2 percent on Monday.

Both China and the United States on Monday expressed confidence that they are approaching a trade agreement, as the two nations began their latest round of negotiations.

Australia’s largest investment bank Macquarie Group jumped as much as 3.2 percent to a more than four-month high after it maintained its 15 percent profit growth outlook for the full year ended March.

“The highlight here is Macquarie after it provided its operational briefing...the market’s taken that in its stride,” said James McGlew executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Additionally, a closely-watched index of Australian business conditions showed a welcome bounce in January after an alarmingly sharp drop the month before, though the survey still pointed to cooling growth ahead.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank rose 0.8 percent each.

Healthcare stocks were lifted by Index heavyweight CSL Ltd , which rose 1.9 percent, a day ahead of its half-yearly results.

Energy stocks climbed 0.8 percent with Beach Energy leading the gains. Oil prices edged up on Tuesday amid OPEC-led supply cuts and U.S. sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.

In the resources space, miners were trading higher after opening in the red, with index heavyweight BHP Group rising 0.67 percent to its highest since Aug. 1, 2011.

“Markets are buying on the basis that the fundamentals are still strong and are still supporting higher iron ore prices,” Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets.

Iron ore prices have been rising on supply concerns after a dam run by Brazil’s Vale’s collapsed, which is expected to affect global output.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7 percent, or 61.96 points, to 9,269.68.

Driving the benchmark were Fisher & Paykel Healthcare , which rose 1.8 percent to its highest since Jan. 23, while Fletcher Building rose 1.18 percent to a near 2-month peak. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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