Australia shares rise on mining and healthcare gains; NZ slips
* Healthcare stocks at near 6-month high on record
spending in budget
* Miners soar for 7th session as iron ore futures hit record
* Mining stocks close at highest since Sept. 2011
* NZ slips after six sessions of gain
(Updates to close)
April 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a near
7-month high on Wednesday as soaring iron ore prices boosted
miners, while healthcare stocks surged after Australia's
government earmarked record spending for the sector in its
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.68 percent or 42.6
points to 6,285.0 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose 0.4
percent on Tuesday.
Australia's conservative government on Tuesday proposed tax
cuts for low and middle income earners while promising the first
budget surplus in more than a decade, in a bid to woo voters
ahead of an upcoming election.
Sentiment was also lifted by data showing Australia's retail
sales growth in February soared to its highest since late-2017,
easing fears of a drop in consumer spending amid a steep
Miners continued on a dream run, surging 1.7 percent
to close at their highest since September, 2011 as iron ore
futures in China hit a record high on the back of
supply disruption worries.
Index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto
rose 2.2 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively. Both mining
giants have flagged lower iron ore output following disruptions
to operations after a cyclone in Western Australia.
Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth largest
miner, rose 2 percent after touching an over 10-year peak in the
Miners have benefited since February after top iron ore
supplier Brazil's Vale SA's tailings dam collapsed,
sending iron ore prices soaring as operations at multiple other
mines were halted due to safety concerns.
A surge in iron ore exports also helped Australia's trade
surplus swell beyond expectations to A$4.8 billion ($3.4
billion) in February, data showed.
Healthcare stocks rose 0.9 percent to a near 6-month
high, with index heavyweight CSL Ltd notching the top
percentage gain at 1.1 percent, while Cochlear Ltd
firmed 0.6 percent.
"The budget announcement had a positive influence on the
market today, particularly in the sectors where funding was
prominent," said Danial Moradi, equity strategist at Lonsec.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
slipped 0.19 percent or 19.09 points to finish the session at
9,939.26, after hitting a record high in the previous session.
Among top losers on the index was Spark New Zealand
which slipped 3.3 percent after its managing director Simon
Moutter stepped down.
(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Additional reporting
by Aby Jose Koilparambil; diting by Sion Cameron-Moore)
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