June 12, 2019 / 2:16 AM / 6 days ago

Australian shares rise buoyed by mining stocks; NZ up

* Mining index rises to 2-month high

* Financials set to snap 5 straight sessions of gains

* Wesfarmers hits record intraday high on $160 mln acquisition

By Niyati Shetty

June 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained on Wednesday buoyed by mining stocks, as China’s stimulus plans and supply crunch concerns in some commodities drove gains in iron ore, coal and base metal prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.3% or 16.1 points to 6,562.0 by 0201 GMT. The benchmark gained 1.6% on Tuesday and is set for a sixth straight day of gains.

China on Monday said it would allow local governments to use proceeds from special bonds as capital for major investment projects, in a bid to shore up the slowing economy amid an escalating trade war with the United States.

China is a major importer of Australian raw materials and a boost to the economy would lift demand for the Pacific nation’s exports.

“Further support for infrastructure spending in China should see metals markets well supported this week,” ANZ said in a note to clients.

“A weaker U.S. dollar helped push commodity markets higher and ongoing supply issues in several market also added some support.”

Copper prices touched their highest in two weeks on Tuesday on hopes that top consumer China will pump money into building metals-intensive infrastructure.

Metals and mining stocks added up to 2.3%, hitting a 2-month high. The index was on track for a third consecutive session of gains.

Major iron ore miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto gained 2.9% and 2.4%, respectively, while Fortescue Metals Group jumped as much as 5.2%.

Expectations that big miners will be unable to expand output to meet high demand after disruptions in production in Australia and Brazil this year saw China’s iron ore futures surge 6% in the previous session.

Gold stocks also gained as much as 1.8%, with Newcrest Mining adding 1.3% and Evolution Mining rising 3.1%

Separately, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday said the United States will team up with Australia and Canada to help countries around the world boost key minerals’ output to reduce reliance on China.

Retailer Wesfarmers Ltd rose up to 0.6% and hit a fresh record after striking a deal o buy online retailer Catch Group Holdings for A$230 million ($159.9 million).

Financials capped the benchmark’s gains as the index marginally declined after five straight sessions of gains.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipped 0.8% and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 1.1%.

A private survey on Wednesday showed a measure of Australian consumer confidence dipped in June as a run of disappointing data on the economy overshadowed a cut in interest rates and a hint of stability in falling house prices.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was slightly firmer at 10,151.64.

Air New Zealand added up to 1.1%, while a2 Milk Company gained 1.8%.

$1 = 1.4384 Australian dollars Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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