January 3, 2019 / 6:15 AM / 6 months ago

Australian shares end higher as weak dollar boosts export stocks

(Updates to close)

Jan 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed more than 1 percent higher on Thursday as a ‘flash crash’ in the local currency bolstered the appeal of export-oriented stocks, with gold stocks topping the gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained across the board to close 1.4 percent higher at 5,633.4. The benchmark lost 1.6 percent on Wednesday.

Broader Asian shares were left shaken after a rare revenue warning from Apple Inc added to worries about slowing global growth and weaker earnings.

The news sparked a rout in holiday-thinned currency markets as investors opted for less risky assets, but the Aussie dollar plumbing multi-year lows proved a blessing for export stocks in the region.

The materials and mining sub-index gained 0.9 percent for the day, with gold stocks claiming the spotlight. Shares of gold miner Evolution Mining Ltd advanced 5 percent to hit a record high.

The banking index also saw solid buying, up 1.8 percent. The “big four” banks gained between 1.2 percent and 2.3 percent.

Positive sentiment spilled over into the healthcare sector as well, propelling the sub-index 1.6 percent higher to its best close since Nov. 2018. Shares of biotherapeutics firm CSL Ltd added 2.2 percent.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.9 percent, or 78.9 points lower in its first trading session of the year, at 8,732.37.

Shares of Kathmandu Holdings weighed on the main index as they fell 13.5 percent to their worst close in over 6 months after reporting a 1 percent drop in its same-store sale for 22 weeks ending Dec. 20, 2018.

Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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