Australia shares end higher on strong earnings, NZ inches up
(Updates to close)
Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished higher on
Thursday as upbeat earnings from local firms and U.S. retailers
lifted sentiment even as many investors remained anxious about
the outlook for economic growth.
Helped by overnight gains on Wall Street, the S&P/ASX
200 index closed up 0.3% at 6,501.80. The benchmark had
declined 0.9% on Wednesday following a 2.2% gain over the first
two trading sessions of the week.
The solid corporate earnings provide much-needed relief to
financial markets which have been roiled over recent months by
the Sino-U.S. trade war and the broadening economic fallout of
The energy sector, which has put on more than 5% so
far this week, thanks to stronger oil, led the gains with gas
firm Santos Ltd and electricity & gas retailer Origin
Energy Ltd anchoring the sub-index's 1.4% gain.
"The push in the market is definitely coming from the oil
and gas sector. It has been a bit sold down. The jump is not
significant but there is just some recovery happening in the
market," said CPS Capital associate director Dale Raynes.
Santos closed 3.5% higher after country's No.2 independent
gas producer posted a 89% jump in half-year profit, boosted by
its acquisition of Quadrant Energy and strong output from its
Cooper Basin fields in South Australia.
Origin Energy finished up 2.4% after it reported a 41.6%
rise in its annual underlying profit, helped by robust
production at its Australia Pacific LNG project.
Retailer Coles Group ended 2% higher as the
announcement of a special dividend along with strong online
sales overshadowed an annual profit drop.
Australia's largest airline Qantas Airways Ltd
posted a 1.4% gain in a highly volatile session for the stock as
investors cheered its A$400 million ($271.00 million) share
buyback announcement, putting behind the disappointing earnings
Financials, a major benchmark constituent, gained
0.5% with all the 'Big Four' banks eking out gains.
However, the Metals and Mining index lost 0.4%,
pulled down mainly by gold stocks, while diversified mining
giants BHP Group posted marginal losses.
Miner South32 Ltd closed 4.4% lower after reporting
a 25% drop in annual underlying profit.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1%
to 10,725.22, led by energy retailer Mercury NZ Ltd and
adventure goods retailer Kathmandu Holdings Ltd, with
more than 3% gains each.
($1 = 1.4760 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
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