November 27, 2019 / 1:51 AM / 12 days ago

Australian, NZ stocks buoyed by trade optimism and resource sector

* Financial stocks rise to one week high

* Rio Tinto to invest $749 mln in Greater Tom Price operations

* Worley rises to over three month high

By Shreya Mariam Job

Nov 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday buoyed by financial and material stocks as investors cheered signs of progress in efforts to defuse the prolonged Sino-U.S. trade war.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that United States and China are close to agreement on the first phase of a trade deal, after top negotiators from the two countries spoke by telephone and agreed to keep working on remaining issues.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6% or 41.50 points to 6,829.00 by 0114 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.8% on Tuesday.

Financial stocks rose as much as 0.5% to a one week high underpinned by a 0.9% rise in shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and a 1.7% rise in AMP Ltd.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group reversed its losses to edge higher after the lender confirmed it is not aware of any impending litigation from the financial crimes watchdog.

Energy stocks rose 0.5% with Worley gaining as much as 2.2% to a three month high after signing a service agreement with Exxonmobil Global Services Company.

Material stocks gained as much as 1.1% on the back of a 1% rise in shares of Rio Tinto sending it to a near four month high.

The world’s second largest iron ore miner on Wednesday said that it had approved a $749 million investment in its Greater Tom Price operations.

“We’ll see a lot of these stories from iron ore majors as they start the next stage of development of Pilbara. These contracts are fairly large and will be good for them,” said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut.

Shares of BHP Group, which also has operations in the Pilbara operations, rose 0.8%.

Gold stocks lent support to the benchmark, rising up to 2% with shares of Evolution mining extending gains into a second session to rise as much as 3.3%.

Rooney said heavy acquisition activity by Australian gold miners both at home and abroad had drawn significant investor interest into the sector.

Separately, shares of Woolworths Group rose as much as 1.8% after the country’s biggest grocery chain said on Wednesday Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci would forgo his bonus following an underpayment scandal.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6% or 65.66 points to 11,110.220.

Shares of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp rose 0.6% while those of A2 Milk gained 1.7%. (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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