Australia Stocks Continue to Push Higher

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares rose for a fifth session in a row Thursday as banks continued to march higher ahead of earnings reports from the major lenders from next week.

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The local marked shrugged off early weakness, tracking overnight declines on Wall Street, as well as some poorly received trading updates. Natural-gas producers also pulled back sharply after the federal government said it would introduce measures to restrict exports for companies not producing enough gas for the east-coast market and when there was a risk of a domestic shortage.

The S&P/ASX 200 rose 9.5 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 5921.5--a fresh two-week high.

Westpac Banking led the major banks higher, rising for a fifth session running, climbing 1%. Australia & New Zealand Banking and National Australia Bank each added 0.8%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia picked up 0.6%.

Santos and Origin Energy, investors in big liquefied natural gas plants on the east coast, dropped 5.5% and 3.6% respectively.

Wesfarmers was 1.5% weaker for the day following the release of third-quarter retail sales and coal production figures, and Ten Network slumped 19% after it said it swung to a first-half loss.

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South32 gained 1.1% after reporting a growing cash pile but a mixed production performance in the three months through March.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 03:32 ET (07:32 GMT)