December 22, 2017 / 1:36 AM / a year ago

Australia shares hit highest in nearly 10 yrs as global stocks rise

Dec 22 - Australian shares on Friday hit their highest in nearly a decade, buoyed by stronger oil prices and tracking gains in global stock markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index had inched up 0.3 percent to 6,079.8 by 0100 GMT, after earlier touching its strongest since January, 2008. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Thursday.

“The quite positive spillover from the European and the U.S. sessions is continuing into the Australian session,” said Stuart Mcdonald, a dealer at IG Markets.

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday in the wake of new data pointing to steady growth in the U.S. economy, with financial stocks leading gains. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended 0.6-percent higher.

Financial stocks also pushed up Australia’s main index, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising as much as 1.1 percent.

The index of financial stocks was trading 0.6-percent higher.

Meanwhile, all stocks in Australia’s energy index gained after oil prices closed at their highest since the summer of 2015. The index hit its strongest since August, 2015, with oil and gas explorer Oil Search Ltd its top gainer.

Among miners, BHP Billiton traded as much as 1.8-percent higher, while Rio Tinto, which also mines copper, gained as much as 0.5 percent.

Copper and zinc rose 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent respectively on the London Metal Exchange on Thursday.

Moving in the other direction, Wesfarmers Ltd fell as much as 0.9 percent despite announcing the sale of a coal mine in the state of Queensland to Texas-based Coronado Coal Group for A$700 million

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.4 percent to 8,396.43.

Dairy major a2 Milk was the biggest contributor to index gains, trading up 1.5 percent.

Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford

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