June 16, 2020 / 7:09 AM / 20 days ago

Australian shares see best day in over 2 months on Fed support

* Australian benchmark snaps three-day losing streak

* NZ Q1 GDP expected to contract for first time in nine years

* Energy stocks see best session since April 30 (Updates to close)

By Shreya Mariam Job

June 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares jumped the most in more than two months on Tuesday as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to start buying corporate bonds and upbeat remarks from the domestic central bank boosted investor confidence.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 3.89% to 5,942.3 points at the close of trade, snapping three straight sessions of losses. The benchmark fell 2.2% on Monday.

The Fed said it would start purchasing corporate debt on Tuesday, adding to other emergency facilities launched to improve market functioning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further boosting sentiment, minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest meeting showed that the country’s economic downturn could be shallower than earlier expected. Data showing an uptick in jobs through May further cemented these hopes.

“As restrictions are lifted, we expect to see the (labour market) recovery strengthen through June and into Q3,” ANZ analysts said in a note.

Financial stocks rose as much as 5.4% and dominated the gains. The “Big Four” banks firmed between 4.1% and 4.5%.

Energy stocks saw their best day since April 30, surging 5.8%. Fuel supplier Viva Energy soared 15.5% after it flagged better-than-expected first-half core profit and revived its share buyback programme.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 1,291, while 430 declined as a 3-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

In New Zealand, gains on the benchmark index were capped after the country reported two new cases of the coronavirus, ending a 24-day streak of no new infections.

The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8% to finish the session at 10,953.85.

The country’s first-quarter gross domestic product data expected on Thursday is likely to show that economic growth contracted for the first time in over nine years, a Reuters poll predicted.

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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