S&P/ASX 200

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Australian shares gain on renewed U.S. stimulus hopes

10/20/2020 | 09:10pm

* Lynas rises on solid Q1 production

* Financials, energy, mining stocks advance

* Healthcare stocks hit by stronger greenback

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday with banking and mining stocks leading the charge, as hopes that U.S. lawmakers could clinch a much-sought-after fiscal stimulus package by the end of the week supported global equity markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4%, or 21.4 points, to 6,203.50 by 0025 GMT after losing 0.7% in the previous session.

Overnight, U.S. House of Representatives 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.

Boosting investor sentiment further, a Reuters report said AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States was expected to resume as early as this week after the U.S. drug regulator completed its review of a serious illness in a study participant.

Australia's financial sub-index rose 0.5%, with the "Big Four" banks gaining between 0.5% and 1.6%.

Miners added 0.6% with top iron ore producers BHP Group and Rio Tinto Ltd advancing 0.7% and 1%, respectively.

An overnight rebound in oil prices after a four-day slump buoyed energy stocks, with Papua New Guinea-focussed explorer Oil Search leading the sub-index higher with a near 3% jump.

Packaging company Orora Ltd was the top percentage gainer on the benchmark with a 6% rise, after providing an upbeat trading outlook for its North American business.

Rare-earths producer Lynas Corp was also among the top boosts as it jumped 3% on reporting higher quarterly output.

Among losers, healthcare stocks slipped 0.9%, dragged by a weaker greenback as the sector relies heavily on exports to the United States. CSL Ltd fell 0.3% to be the biggest drag on the sub-index.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched 0.1% higher to 12,472. Among the top gainers, logistics services provider Mainfreight Ltd and utilities provider Infratil Ltd advanced 2.2% and 1.7%, respectively. (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

© Reuters 2021
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