Australia Stocks Climb Ahead Of China Data; Bank Shares Strong

By Michael KitchenMarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks delivered some thumping gains in the first hour of Tuesday trading, tracking gains for major bourses across the world as hopes for a Greek bailout deal rose, though the Sydney could reverse course later in the morning, when HSBC releases a preliminary version of its key China manufacturing gauge. The S&P/ASX 200 barreled 1.2% higher, with banks -- among the most heavily weighted segments of the market -- rose on the Greek optimism. Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 2.1%, while National Australia Bank Ltd. added 1.2%, and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp. gained 1.8% apiece. A mixed picture for commodities translated to a similarly mixed picture for mining stocks, with BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. up 0.7% each, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. lost 1.6% and Perseus Mining Ltd. fell 1.2%. Shares of Oz Minerals Ltd. added 2.3% despite an overnight retreat for copper prices. Meanwhile, stock in Healthscope Ltd. was quoted 1.7% higher on news of its plan to sell its Australian pathology unit. Construction-materials firm James Hardie Industries SE rose 2.2% after U.S. existing-home sales beat expectations for May, while shares of CIMIC Group Ltd. added 2.1%.

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