Australia Stocks Rise for Fourth Session Running

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--A further advance by major banks amid broad gains for Australian stocks Wednesday helped lift the market for a fourth straight session to a two-week high.

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A positive finish for stocks on Wall Street, helped by upbeat earnings reports, offered a strong lead for the local market as it played catch-up after being closed Tuesday for a public holiday. Every industry sector rose except for materials shares, which slipped slightly as gold stocks weighed.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed up 40.2 points, or 0.7%, at 5912.0. The four biggest banks collectively added about 13 points to the index.

For the day, 2.76 billion shares were traded with a value of 6.78 billion Australian dollars (US$ billion), Commonwealth Securities said.

The major banks have been moving steadily higher since the U.S. election, which raised expectations of global inflation and increased interest rates. It comes despite the worries of Australian regulators about riskier mortgage lending as home prices continue to climb in biggest cities and household debt levels continue to build.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, higher for a fourth session running, picked up 1% to close at a 20-month high. Westpac Banking gained 0.6%, Australia & New Zealand Banking rose 1.3% and National Australia Bank added 0.7%. The four are due to turn in corporate earnings starting next week

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An overnight recovery in U.S. oil prices helped lift the local energy stocks, with Woodside Petroleum up 0.5%, Oil Search 1.1% higher and Santos gaining 0.3%.

BHP Billiton was 0.6% stronger after turning in quarterly production numbers and cutting its full-year guidance for coking coal and copper output, although that lagged fellow iron-ore producers as Chinese steel and iron-ore futures continued a recent rebound. Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group were up 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively.

Newcrest Mining sank 4.9%, St. Barbara lost 11% and Northern Star dropped by 7% after the price of gold extended its fall on Tuesday.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 26, 2017 03:17 ET (07:17 GMT)