December 3, 2018 / 6:51 AM / 6 months ago

Australian, NZ stocks higher after truce

* U.S.-China truce boosts sentiment

* Energy index sees biggest intraday gain in 2-years

* GrainCorp soars after takeover offer (Updates to close)

By Anushka Trivedi

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Monday, tracking global gains as investor confidence improved following an apparent truce between leaders of the world’s two largest economies over trade issues.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed on the sidelines of G-20 summit held in Argentina, that the former would not raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent on Jan. 1, as previously announced.

Tensions between the two countries have hurt global markets that are highly exposed to trade, such as Australia’s.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.8 percent, or 104 points, higher at 5,771.2, posting its best intraday gain since July 4, 2017. The benchmark index finished 1.6 percent lower on Friday.

“The temporary truce declared between China and the United States is positive for risk assets across the board,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC. Energy stocks closed 4.6 percent higher, posting their strongest gain in over two years, boosted by a surge in oil prices, thanks to the U.S.-China agreement and ahead of a meeting this week by producer club OPEC that is expected to result in a supply cut.

Oil and gas explorer Woodside Petroleum Ltd closed 3.5 percent higher while peer Santos Ltd ended the day 8.7 percent up.

The metals & mining index firmed 3.3 percent with global miner BHP Group Ltd closing 3.7 percent higher while Rio Tinto finished up 2.3 percent.

Financial stocks pared some of their losses clocked on Friday, inching up 0.8 percent.

The country’s top two lenders Commonwealth Bank Of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp ticked up 0.5 and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Shares of bulk grain handler GrainCorp Ltd soared 34 percent to A$9.800 after a A$2.38 billion ($1.75 billion) takeover offer from Long-Term Asset Partners.

GrainCorp posted its best trading session in more than six years, ending almost 27 percent higher but fell short of the bid price of A$10.42 per share.

McCarthy said there was still a “high degree of doubt” regarding the deal’s feasibility, considering how little was known about LTAP’s financial backers and the buyer’s plans for Graincorp.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.6 percent, or 52.55 points, to finish the session at 8,876.09.

Dairy producer A2 Milk Company Ltd was the top percentage gainer on the index, closing 5.4 percent up.

Editing by Sam Holmes

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