Australia shares higher as iron ore prices drive miners; NZ flat
* Higher iron prices push Rio, Fortescue up
* Gold stocks fall on prices
* Aussie benchmark set for over 1 pct weekly gain
By Aby Jose Koilparambil
April 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares advanced on Friday,
outperforming regional markets as higher iron ore prices
supported large miners such as Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.7 percent to 6,244.80
by 0110 GMT, bouncing back from a 0.4 percent decline on
The benchmark is on track to add more than 1 percent for the
week, with gains in mining stocks fuelling weekly advance.
The broader market also found support from firm U.S.
economic data. U.S. initial jobless claims for last week dropped
to their lowest level since 1969, while in March, producer
prices made their biggest gain since October.
"The positive data and strong treasury yields in U.S. point
towards potentially better outlook for both inflation and rate
cycle," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at
Blue Ocean Equities. "These factors are good for the banks and
that is flowing into the financial sector."
The benchmark gains were powered by financials, with
the Big Four banks rising between 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent.
Somasundaram said he expected the Australian market to be
choppy in the near short-term but would go higher in the context
of cheap valuations.
China's steel and iron ore futures closed higher on
Thursday, resuming their climb after a one-day pause and
supported by expectations of higher demand.
Index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto
gained 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, while
Fortescue, the world's fourth largest iron ore miner,
put on 1.2 percent.
The metals and mining sub-index is set to advance
0.5 percent for the week, its fifth consecutive weekly gain,
however, on the day, the sub-index was flat with gains capped by
weaker gold stocks.
Gold prices fell more than one percent, slipping below the
key $1,300 level, as robust economic data from the United States
boosted the dollar, taking the sheen off the safe-haven metal.
Gold firms accounted for the top five losers of the metals
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index was little changed.
Retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings Ltd
was among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark,
adding about 2 percent while flag carrier Air New Zealand was
among the top decliners, shedding as much as about 2 percent.
(Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by
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