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Energy stocks drive Australian shares higher; a2 Milk drags down NZ

02/24/2021 | 08:05pm

* Energy stocks rise to one-month high

* Link Administration jumps on unit IPO plan

* a2 Milk falls to more than two-year low

Feb 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday as energy stocks jumped on stronger crude oil prices and technology stocks tracked their U.S. peers higher after three straight sessions of falls.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.9% to 6,840.1 by 0026 GMT, also tracking global equities after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell eased inflation concerns. The index fell 0.9% on Wednesday.

Overnight, Wall Street's major indexes closed higher as a sell-off in technology-related stocks eased and a rotation into cyclical shares continued after Powell said the Fed plans to leave interest rates unchanged for a long time to come.

Energy stocks in Australia rose to a one-month high and dominated gains on the benchmark, as oil prices hit a 13-month peak overnight after U.S. government data showed a drop in crude output.

Santos jumped as much as 3.5% to hit a more than one-month high, while Woodside Petroleum gained 4.1%.

Technology stocks rose 1.1%, mirroring gains in their U.S peers.

Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay said it was exploring an additional stock listing abroad amid increased U.S. investor interest after reporting a more than doubling in first-half sales.

Trading in Afterpay shares were however halted.

Link Administration Holdings jumped 3.2% after the investment services provider said shareholders of its unit PEXA agreed to explore the possibility of taking the online property transaction firm public.

Qantas Airways rose 4.7% despite posting a A$1.03 billion first-half underlying loss before tax. Jefferies analyst Anthony Moulder cited strong cash flow and liquidity as the reasons for the stock move.

Financial stocks also rose, with the "Big Four" banks trading in positive territory.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.9% to 12,173.26 by 0057 GMT.

Shares of a2 Milk fell as much as 19.9% to a more than two-year low after the dairy producer forecast full-year revenue at the lower end of its guidance range, as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted sales in its key Chinese market.

(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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