Australia Stocks Gain, Buoyed by Resources, Banks

By Robb M. StewartFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian stocks rose strongly Wednesday as a lift in commodity prices and a recovery by the banks contributed to widespread buying.

After initially dipping, the S&P/ASX 200 steadily gained ground through the session to end near its high, up 41.5 points, or 0.7%, at 5755.7. It was the biggest move by the index in a week.

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Financial and resources stocks led broad gains, with only the industrials sector finishing in the red.

Banks found further support in a steadier week for the industry, after declining of late in the wake of fresh taxes on the largest lenders' liabilities as well as the prospect of greater regulatory capital requirements and worries about the housing market.

Regional banks led, with Bendigo & Adelaide and Bank of Queensland rising 2.8% and 1.9%, respectively, while the big four banks gained between 0.4% and 1.1%. Collectively, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac, Australia & New Zealand Banking and National Australia Bank added almost 11 points to the ASX 200.

Still, investment bank and asset manager Macquarie retreated for a fourth straight session, losing 0.6%.

Insurance Australia Group jumped 6.4% after raising margin guidance for the financial year through June due to what it anticipated would be a higher-than-expected reserve release.

The materials sector notched up the sharpest rise, buoyed by overnight strength in base metals and iron-ore prices. Chinese iron-ore futures extended gains Wednesday, encouraged by comments by Premier Li Keqiang.

Diversified miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto picked up 1.9% and 2.5%, and iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group rose 4.1%.

Big energy stocks also were firmer, despite oil prices pulling back during Asian trading after surging in the U.S. session after reports of cyberattacks on global businesses, including a shipper and a Russian oil giant.

Woodside Petroleum was 2.2% higher, Oil Search gained 1.4% and Santos was ahead by 2%.

For the day, 2.6 billion shares were traded with a value of about 6.37 billion Australian dollars (US$4.83 billion), Commonwealth Securities said.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 28, 2017 03:31 ET (07:31 GMT)