Dec 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares bounced on Wednesday, swept up by record highs on Wall Street as investors continued to lap up a global reflation rally and looked ahead to the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate-setting meeting later in the day.
While the Fed is all but certain to hike rates by a quarter percentage point to between 0.50 and 0.75 percent, the focus is on what it signals for the coming quarters following Republican Donald Trump’s surprise election win last month.
Expectations Trump will boost fiscal spending and lift U.S. growth have fuelled a global reflation rally over the past month, with the recent deal by world oil producers to cut output adding to the momentum.
The S&P/ASX 200 index saw broad-based gains, rising 0.8 percent, or 42.75 points, to 5,587.8 by 0131 GMT.
The benchmark had snapped five straight days of gains in the previous session, falling 0.3 percent.
M&A activity added some spark to consumer stocks, which got a lift from massive gains in APN Outdoor Group and Tatts Group shares, up 8.5 percent and 8 percent respectively.
While APN Outdoor revealed plans to buy-out rival oOh!Media Ltd, lottery operator Tatts Group received an A$7.3 billion ($5.46 billion) takeover offer from a consortium advised by Macquarie Group.
Financial stocks in the U.S. and at home have made the most of the recent rally as they are seen as a natural hedge against reflation trade.
The ‘Big Four’ Australian banks, which serve as a yard stick for the sector’s performance, rose over 1 percent each.
Elsewhere, solid gains were seen in utilities.
Electricity producer and provider AGL Energy rose 1.2 percent, while natural gas infrastructure business APA Group added 2.2 percent.
“It is interesting to note that some of the interest rate exposed sectors are doing the best,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
“Healthcare stocks, which have been under sustained pressure, are also leading.”
The healthcare index rose 0.9 percent driven by a CSL Ltd rising 1.6 percent.
Basic materials were weighed down by overnight falls in copper and base metals prices.
Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were 0.4 percent and 0.2 percent lower respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3 percent, or 22.99 points, to 6,827.22, in what could be its fourth straight session of losses.
Entertainment firm SKY Network Television, which lowered its full-year guidance, was the biggest loser on the index, down 8 percent. ($1 = 1.3358 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Adittional reporting by Suhail Hassan Bhat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)