October 24, 2019 / 6:18 AM / a month ago

Australian shares supported by energy, mining firms; NZ edges down

* Energy shares rise to over 1-mth closing high

* JB Hi-Fi at record high on upbeat results (Updates to close)

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares advanced on Thursday supported by the resources sector thanks in part to sharp overnight gains in oil prices, while a mixed bag of corporate results lent an air of caution to the trading session.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3% or 20.5 points to 6,693.6, having ended little changed Wednesday.

Energy stocks were the among the best performers on the benchmark, rising 1.5% to its highest level since Sept. 23.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said a big draw-down overnight on U.S. oil inventories was “a direct contradiction of the narrative we’ve seen of slowing growth in the U.S.”.

“Australia is a particular beneficiary because of its higher resources exposure,” he added.

Oil prices dipped on profit-taking on Thursday, after posting a 2.5% rise in the previous session following the U.S. inventories data.

Index heavyweight Woodside Petroleum added 2.4% and was the best performer on the energy sub-index, while peer Santos Ltd gained 2.3%.

Major miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto Ltd were up about 1% and 0.7%, buoying the metals & mining sub-index .

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group ended up 0.5% at a more than 1-week high, after it reported a rise in first-quarter shipments.

Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd jumped 6.8% to a record high, and was the top gainer on the ASX 200 after posting higher comparable sales growth in July-September.

Qantas Airways dropped 3.7% after it flagged sluggish domestic growth and a higher annual fuel bill.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd dropped 1.6% after its quarterly output fell. The company also flagged delays at a planned project in Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand shares was marginally lower, as utilities took a breather from the previous session’s sharp sell-offs.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.2% or 22.27 points at 10,831.52, a day after it slumped more than 2% and recorded its worst session in more than a year.

Major energy retailers had plunged on Wednesday after Rio Tinto flagged plans to shut its aluminium smelter, the largest electricity consumer in New Zealand.

Mercury NZ ended up 0.5%, while Meridian Energy and Contact Energy closed flat. (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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