Australian shares: Australia shares rise on lift from financial, energy stocks

Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday, supported by gains in financial and energy stocks, on hopes that the United States was nearing a deal on a stimulus package.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.1% higher at 6,191.80 following Tuesday’s 0.7% slide.

Wall Street gained overnight as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed hopes of clearing the coronavirus relief package this week, bringing some stability to markets amid heightened uncertainty ahead of the presidential election.

“At the moment where we are being pushed and shoved around by the hopes for U.S. stimulus… hopes yet again that they are going to get something before the election,” said Henry Jennings, a senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday.

Adding to the upbeat mood, AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States was expected to resume as early as this week, a Reuters report said.

Australia’s financial sub-index rose about 1%, boosted by gains in the “Big Fourbanks.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp rose between 0.8% and 1.6%.

“If we see U.S. futures doing well, our market will tend to follow and the banks being such a big part of our index, that’s one of the places that people put their money,” Jennings said.

U.S. stock futures were up 0.71%.

The energy sector rose 1.3% boosted by Woodside Petroleum and Santos, which gained about 2% each, ahead of their quarterly production numbers on Thursday.

On the downside, healthcare stocks closed down 1.1% and marked its worst session since Oct. 2. Industry behemoth CSL slid 1.3%, while Mesoblast declined 4.4%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.2% to finish the session at 12,432.61, with losses led by Scales Corporation Ltd and Goodman Property Trust , which fell about 2.8% each.

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