February 12, 2019 / 6:02 AM / 5 months ago

Australia, NZ shares firmer on U.S.-China trade hopes

* Energy stocks gain on rising oil prices

* Benchmark snaps two sessions of losses

* Financials fall for third straight session (Updates to close)

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged higher on Tuesday, supported by positive signals from Washington and Beijing about their trade negotiations and firm earnings guidance from the country’s largest investment bank.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 percent, or 18.3 points, to 6,079.1 at the close of trade. The benchmark had edged 0.2 percent lower on Monday.

U.S. and China officials expressed hopes that the new round of trade talks would help progress toward easing the seven-month long trade war.

While the “big four” red streak continued for the third straight session, losses were offset by gains in Macquarie Group .

Shares of Australia’s largest investment bank rose 2.1 percent to a more than four month closing high after the firm said it remained on track for a record annual profit.

“The highlight here is Macquarie after it provided its operational briefing...the market’s taken that in its stride,” said James McGlew executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Meanwhile, shares of biotherapeutics heavyweight CSL Ltd strengthened 1.6 percent ahead of its half yearly results scheduled to be released on Wednesday.

The energy subindex extended gains into a second session, climbing 1.2 percent, with Santos Ltd and Origin Energy Ltd advancing 2 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index posted its fifth straight session of gains, rising 0.8 percent or 70.77 points to finish the session at 9,280.77.

The New Zealand-listed shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd rose 1.3 percent, while those of Goodman Property Trust gained 2.2 percent.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s quarterly survey of expectations showed business managers forecast of annual inflation in the next two years was softer than the previous quarter. (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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