Australia Stocks Fade in Late Trade but Still Rise for Third Day

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australian shares edged higher Thursday for a third straight day of gains that took the market to its highest close in a month.

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Although it faded in the final hour of trade, the S&P/ASX 200 managed to pick up 8.4 points, or 0.2%, to 5785.0.

Gains by mining heavyweight BHP Billiton helped drive the materials sector and the wider market, aided by further increases overnight in prices for a number of commodities, including base metals and iron ore.

Property trusts and consumer staples also were on the positive side of the ledger, offsetting weakness by energy companies and utilities. Most of the major banks continued to push higher.

BHP has risen the last three sessions, gaining 1.1% on Thursday to finish at its highest level since April 10. The day's push came as Anglo American announced it would resume dividend payments sooner than expected on a rise in its half-year profit, and with some analysts anticipating that Rio Tinto could be aggressive with its dividend when it turns in its half-year results early next month.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia led the major banks, rising 0.3%, while Australia & New Zealand Banking and National Australia Bank each inched up 0.1%. Westpac Banking, however, slipped 0.3%.

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Investment bank and asset manager Macquarie climbed 1.2% after it reaffirmed guidance for a steady profit this financial year.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 03:19 ET (07:19 GMT)