Australian shares: Australia shares end firmer as cenbank hints at further stimulus

Australian shares closed higher on Thursday, lifted by energy and mining stocks, as investors bet on a steady recovery after the reserve bank hinted at additional monetary easing to support the pandemic-ravaged economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.5% higher at 6,210.30, following a 0.3% decline on Wednesday.

Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe on Thursday said the board was mulling options to support jobs and businesses, and added that it felt monetary easing would become more effective as coronavirus curbs were lifted.

Analysts say the RBA could lower the cash rate by 10 to 15 basis points, as early as in the central bank’s meeting next month.

“The considerations of the RBA … have been enough to really give the Aussie market a bit of a boost,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

Adding further optimism, China’s central bank on Thursday injected 500 billion yuan ($74.48 billion) worth of medium-term loans into the banking system and kept borrowing costs unchanged for the sixth straight month.

“The market is more than happy to bet on the Asian play … China seems to be the safe place to be,” said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive officer of Deep Data Analytics.

The Australian energy sector, the top boost to the benchmark, gained 2.5% to mark its highest close since Sept. 8, buoyed by a rise in oil prices.

Oil Search and Santos ended about 4% higher.

Mining stocks climbed 1% at close, with BHP Group ending 2.1% higher and Rio Tinto finishing up 1%.

The heavyweight finanical index gained 0.6%, with the so-called “Big Four” banks ending the session firmer.

Meanwhile, technology stocks slipped 1.5%, snapping eight straight sessions of gains.

Nearmap Ltd closed 6% lower, while Bravura Solutions Ltd lost 3.7%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.5% lower at 12,486.73, snapping an 11-session winning streak.

Top losers were A2 Milk Company Ltd, down 3.1%, followed by Vista Group International Ltd, losing 2.6%.

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