August 30, 2019 / 2:53 AM / a month ago

Australian shares ride trade war 'sugar rush', NZ also rises

* Banks lead ASX, ANZ set for best day in 8 wks

* Tech stocks also surge in line with Wall St. peers

* Gold units lose safe-haven shine amid cooler trade climate

By Devika Syamnath

Aug 30 (Reuters) - Gains in the banking and mining sectors boosted Australian stocks on Friday, as signs of tentative easing in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute provided some cheer to global risk sentiment.

At 0222 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 1.3%, or 85.5 points, to 6,592.9. The benchmark was headed for its fourth straight session in the black and a second consecutive weekly gain.

“Soothing comments on trade by the Chinese Commerce Ministry late yesterday in Asia saw Wall Street stocks carve out impressive gains overnight.... Equities and energy markets gladly accepted the sugar rush,” said Jeffrey Halley, Senior Market Analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA in a note to clients.

China’s commerce ministry said Beijing and Washington were discussing the next round of face-to-face talks scheduled for September.

“As ever though, sentiment remains cautious at best with global markets vulnerable to headline bombs emanating from either Beijing or Washington D.C.,” Halley further cautioned.

Australian bank stocks, the heaviest sector on the benchmark, tacked on as much as 1.3%. The “big four” banks added between 1.3% and 1.6%.

Australia and New Zealand Banking was set for its best day in over 8 weeks.

Mining units also rose, with sector titans BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto climbing as much as 1.8% and 2.5%, respectively.

Local tech stocks surged as much as 2.5% to hit an over one-month high, inspired by overnight strength in trade-sensitive Wall Street peers.

Data center operator NEXTDC Ltd and buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Touch Group Ltd notched up 6.1% and 4.6%, respectively. Afterpay hit its best level since listing, with cheer augmented by solid customer growth numbers it posted this week.

Signs of easing trade tensions placated recession fears but weighed on the safe-haven appeal of gold stocks, which lost as much as 3.1% and was the sole sector in the red.

Newcrest Mining Ltd and Evolution Mining Ltd advanced 2.3% and 2.7%, respectively.

Lithium miner Galaxy Resources Ltd bucked the trend to fall as much as 6.8% after it reported a huge half-year loss due to an impairment charge related to its flagship Mt Cattlin project.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark index rose 0.8%, or 83.63 points, to 10,663.7.

Dairy products maker Fonterra was the top gainer on the benchmark, and set for its best session in 8 weeks.

Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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