Australian shares claw back losses on trade progress, NZ hits record
* Sentiment buoyed by U.S.-China trade talk expectations
* Miners, energy stocks drive benchmark's recovery
* NZ hits fresh peak
(Updates to close)
March 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on
Thursday, as investors cheered signs of possible progress
towards a U.S.-China trade deal, with miners and energy stocks
leading the comeback.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 percent higher at
6,176.1. The benchmark eked out a meagre 0.1 percent gain on
Reuters reported on Thursday that the United States and
China have made progress in all areas under discussion in trade
talks, with movement on the touchy issue of forced technology
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury
Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrive in Beijing on Thursday for a new
round of talks with Chinese officials to work out a deal that
would end a year-long trade war.
"Supposedly the Chinese are giving space on the tech
transfer side of things and IP protections...Mnuchin is in China
at the moment and that is going to help the process," said
Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean
The Australian benchmark was boosted by major iron ore
miners Rio Tinto and BHP Group, which gained
about 1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Iron ore prices have risen significantly as a result of
lower supply, driven in large part by production issues at
Vale on Wednesday announced a series of writedowns and
provisions related to the Brumadinho tailings dam collapse that
killed some 300 people two months ago. However, the miner did
not provide production guidance, read by many in the market as a
sign it is still some way from recovering from the disruptions.
"Continuous problems in Brazil are expected to keep iron ore
prices elevated...prices are going to hang around longer than
most people expected," Somasundaram said.
Stocks in the energy sector also came back with oil firms
Santos Ltd and Woodside Petroleum rising 1.3
percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
Lower oil prices and global demand worries had weighed on
energy stocks earlier in the day, sending the sub-index
down as much as 0.6 percent to its lowest since Feb. 12.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index ended the session at yet another record high,
rising about 0.7 percent to 9,766.19.
The benchmark soared on Wednesday after the country's
central bank stunned investors by raising the prospect of a rate
cut as its next move.
Air New Zealand Ltd, which added about 2 percent,
said it was launching a two-year cost reduction plan and
deferred aircraft capital expenditures of about NZ$750 million
($509.78 mln) as part of a business review.
(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)
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