October 27, 2017 / 1:37 AM / a year ago

Australian shares hit near 6-mth high on Macquarie lift; NZ up

Oct 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose to a near six-month high on Friday, boosted by Macquarie Group’s jump to record levels, while material and energy stocks further supported the index.

Macquarie, the country’s biggest investment bank, rose as much 4.3 percent to an all-time high after posting its best first-half profit and upgrading its earnings forecast for the full year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 5.4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,921.7 at 0033 GMT, paring gains after rising as much as 0.4 percent earlier. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent on Thursday.

“The market has had an extremely good month, rising over four percent in October ... so I suspect there may be a bit of profit taking in the market,” said Damien Hennessy of Heuristic Investment Systems in Melbourne.

The index heads for its 12th session of gains in 13, and is set to post its fourth consecutive weekly gain.

Metals specialist South32 Ltd ticked up 4.2 percent to its highest in more than three weeks after aluminium prices touched their highest in more than five years on Thursday.

Healthcare stocks also boosted to the index, with Australian shares of U.S.-based Resmed Inc shooting to a record high after posting a 13 percent rise in quarterly revenue.

Energy shares rose after Brent oil closed at a 27-month high on Thursday. Oil Search Ltd climbed as much as 1.7 percent to a five-month high.

A slide in Qantas Airways Ltd limited the gains on the index. Shares of the airline fell as much as 4.6 percent, a day after it warned on Thursday that earnings growth for its higher-margin Australian domestic fights could hit turbulence in 2018.

Meanwhile, a top central banker on Thursday said Australia’s labour market still has a “sizable degree” of spare capacity, despite a massive surge in employment since the start of this year.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 index rose 20.75 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,107.49 at 0033 GMT. The benchmark was set its first weekly loss in six.

Healthcare stocks accounted for over quarter of the gains on the index, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd rising as much as 1.4 percent to a record high. The stock has risen over 56 percent this year, as of Wednesday’s close.

Fletcher Building Ltd, after an early 0.5 percent rise, slipped 0.3 percent to its lowest since July 24.

The construction firm reported a fire at one of its businesses in Auckland, but said it doesn’t expect the incident to have a material impact on full-year earnings.

Real estate stocks also saw a broad decline after the government took steps to ban foreign investors from buying established homes.

Newly-sworn in Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday she would seek to renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in Vietnam in two weeks’ time to include the housing investment measure.

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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