February 1, 2019 / 1:02 AM / 8 months ago

Australia shares edge up on positive U.S. lead, mining gains; NZ firms

* Energy sub-index set for sixth straight weekly gain

* Benchmark poised to snap three-week winning streak

* Financials subdued ahead of Royal Commission report

* Index logs best January since 2013

* Metals and mining index extends rally to fifth day

By Rashmi Ashok

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged higher on Friday, tracking an upbeat performance on Wall Street, while strong gains for miners on the back of firm iron ore prices offset losses among financials and energy stocks.

Global stocks rose after strong earnings by social media giant Facebook buoyed Wall Street and the Federal Reserve’s pledge to be patient in raising interest rates in the future soothed nerves and helped fuel buying.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 percent or 10.4 points to 5,875.10 by 0012 GMT, but looked set to snap a three-week winning streak. The benchmark fell 0.4 percent on Thursday, but still logged its best January since 2013.

The metals and mining index extended its rally to a fifth session as iron ore futures hovered at 17-month highs after Vale SA’s mining disaster in Brazil.

Mining behemoth BHP Group rose 1.4 percent while rival Rio Tinto added 0.8 percent.

Gold stocks also jumped, with Newcrest Mining rising 1.4 percent and OceanaGold Corp gaining 1.6 percent.

Gold prices held steady on Thursday, having earlier hit a nine-month high, after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady and said it would be patient on further hikes.

Healthcare stocks also rose, with Healthscope posting the top percentage gain on the sub-index and hitting an eight-month high.

The hospital operator recommended a A$4.35 billion ($3.16 billion) takeover offer from Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management after several months of negotiations.

Energy stocks edged lower in tandem with U.S. crude prices, which fell as uncertainty about trade overtook news about production cuts and the Fed’s dovish stance.

Despite the losses, the sub-index was set to notch its sixth straight week of gains.

Whitehaven Coal was the top percentage loser, slipping over 2 percent after an industrial website reported that some ports in northeastern China have stopped customs clearings on imported coking coal, sparking expectations of import restrictions.

Financial stocks were under pressure ahead of the release of a final report on Monday of a Royal Commission investigation into wrongdoings by the country’s banking sector.

“It just seems to be a panic when the result is coming out... The risk is if they (Royal Commission) come out and say that some of the banks have to break up some parts to stop cross-selling,” said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent or 7.22 points to 8,992.56.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Co and Synlait Milk both rose 0.3 percent.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin

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