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Australia shares hit 9-month high as Biden transition lifts risk appetite

11/24/2020 | 07:31pm

* Australia on track for a third consecutive session of gains

* Financials, energy stocks hit 8-1/2-month high

* Gold stocks at 6-1/2-month low as safe-haven appeal fades

* NZ cenbank to resume mortgage lending curbs next year

Nov 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares touched a near nine-month high on Wednesday, tracking an overnight Wall Street rally, as a formal green light for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to transition to the White House assuaged political uncertainty.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above the 30,000-point mark for the first time as investors cheered the positive developments in Washington and hopes that a potential vaccine will soon be widely available.

In Australia, states continued easing virus-induced travel curbs, with the country firmly on the path to virtually eliminating the virus as new infections slowed to a trickle.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.8% at 6,697.1 by 2359 GMT, its highest since Feb. 27, on track for a third straight session of gains.

Energy stocks climbed to an 8-1/2-month peak after oil prices reached their highest since March on vaccine optimism. Woodside Petroleum climbed 4.2%, while Santos jumped 5.2%.

Heavyweight financials gained up to 1.9% to hit an 8-1/2-month high on prospects for a broader economic rebound.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia tacked on 2.6% and National Australia Bank rose 2.5% to lead gains in the sub-index.

Top miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto were the biggest winners in the metals and mining sub-index.

A continued downturn in prices of safe-haven bullion saw gold stocks take a beating and slip to their lowest in 6-1/2 months, with Evolution Mining and AngloGold Ashanti losing the most.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.1% to 12,696.87, with local shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rising 3.4% and 3.3%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the country's central bank said it intended to resume mortgage lending curbs next year amid rising fears of a housing bubble.

(Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

© Reuters 2021
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