Off The Wire
Australian shares rise on financials, energy; NZ also up
By Susan Mathew
Dec 8 (Reuters) - Financial and energy stocks put Australian shares on track for a second day of gains on Friday, taking cues from a rise on Wall Street and higher oil prices overnight.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 11.577 points, or 0.2 percent, at 5,989.7 by 0053 GMT, and looked set to log a weekly gain for a third straight week.
A rally in popular tech stocks such as Facebook buoyed Wall Street, with all three of its main indexes ending higher. "The Australian markets had a nice lead from offshore markets overnight. The Dow after having couple of sessions down was up, this has spilled in to our markets this morning," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.
Data earlier in the session showed that owner occupied housing finance in Australia declined less than expected in October from the previous month. It fell 0.6 percent, while a Reuters poll had shown expectations of a 2.5 percent drop.
A gain of between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent by the 'Big Four' banks boosted the finance-heavy index the most.
Westpac Banking on Friday said it has accepted the need for the Royal Commision inquiry saying it believes the inquiry would help restore trust in the sector. Energy stocks rose in tandem with oil prices as the Aussie energy index climbed as much as 1.4 percent.
Woodside Petroleum rose 0.4 percent, while Origin Energy gained as much as 4.2 percent at one point, hitting its highest in over 2 years. Insurance Australia Group rose as much as 1.7 percent, posting its best session in more than two weeks, after it said it had entered agreements to share its premiums with three of its reinsurers to curb earnings volatility. On the down side, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent. Iron ore on the Dalian exchange had tumbled 7.5 percent on Thursday amid growing concerns that steel demand in the world's top producer will decline as winter kicks in. New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.4 percent, or 34.84 points, at 8,207.44, on track for its fourth straight weekly gain.
Consumer and healthcare stocks led the rise, with Fletcher Building gained 1.6 percent and Ryman Healthcare added 1.8 percent.
New Zealand's manufacturing sales volumes rose 0.3 percent in the third quarter, according to data earlier in the day. For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad; Editing by Kim Coghill)