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Australia shares rise 1 pct, investors eye US healthcare vote
March 24, 2017 / 2:04 AM / 9 months ago

Australia shares rise 1 pct, investors eye US healthcare vote

March 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares posted their biggest intra-day gain in more than three weeks on Friday, led by financials and healthcare stocks and clawing back this week’s earlier losses, as investors eyed the possibility of an imminent U.S. healthcare vote.

The market has continued to recover from the 90-point fall on Wednesday, which followed the Trump administration’s struggles to push through the healthcare overhaul, seen by investors as a sign he may also face setbacks delivering promised corporate tax cuts.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1 percent, or 56.85 points to 5,764.80 by 0108 GMT.

“We are seeing a bit of oversold price recovery coming into Australian market today,” said Gary Burton, analyst at IG Markets.

The effect of the U.S. healthcare bill delay initially weighed on Australian stocks but news of a vote later on Friday helped stocks stage a recovery, Burton said.

The U.S. House of Representatives had been scheduled to vote on the bill on Thursday, but leaders put off the vote after failing to find enough support among Republicans to pass it.

The healthcare index rose 1.4 percent, while financials index was up 1.4 percent.

Australia’s biggest pharma company by market capitalisation, CSL Ltd rose 1.7 percent, while shares of Cochlear Ltd gained 1.4 percent.

Australia’s “big four” banks rose between 0.9 percent to 1.5 percent.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals rose 1.5 percent after it said it will pay down a $1 billion term loan, reducing its debt to $3.6 billion.

Shares of BHP Billiton rose 0.8 percent.

The strike at Chile’s Escondida, which is operated by BHP, is ending after workers decided to invoke a rarely used legal provision that allows them to extend their old contract, the union said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, gold stocks lost some shine, with the Aussie gold index shedding 1.4 percent.

Evolution Mining lost 4.2 percent and Newcrest Mining fell 0.4 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2 percent or 10.58 points at 7,073.13.

Healthcare and industrials stocks led the index, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp gaining 1.1 percent while Auckland International Airport Ltd rose 0.9 percent.

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$1 = 1.3101 Australian dollars Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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