Australia Stocks Rise for a Second Day Running

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Resources companies led the Australian share market higher Thursday as iron ore prices steadied and crude oil recovered.

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Modest gains by several of the major banks also lent weight to the day's advance, taking back some of the steady losses in recent weeks that picked up on news earlier in the month that the federal government would tax the liabilities of the biggest banks from July.

Ending near its high of the day, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 20.6 points, or 0.4%, to 5789.6. It was a second straight rise for the index and its third of the week.

Oil prices rose in Asian trading as investors positioned ahead of a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries later in the global day. OPEC members and other oil producers such as Russia are widely expected to extend their agreed production cuts.

Chinese iron-ore and steel futures were steadier, after slumping Wednesday following a downgrade of the nation's credit rating by Moody's Investors Service.

Among energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum and AGL each gained 1.5% and Origin Energy climbed 1.9%, although Oil Search slipped 0.3%.

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BHP Billiton picked up 1.2% while Rio Tinto and Fortescue both added 1.4%. The three are among the world's biggest iron-ore producers.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia was 0.3% higher, Westpac Banking rose 0.2% and Australia & New Zealand Banking was 1.3% stronger, although National Australia Bank dropped 0.5%.

Ansell jumped 4.3% after it said it had reached a deal to sell its condoms business and would use some of the proceeds to buy back about 10% of its shares.

Aristocrat Leisure climbed 4% after the slot-machine maker reported better-than-expected first-half earnings.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 25, 2017 03:12 ET (07:12 GMT)