September 5, 2019 / 2:38 AM / 13 days ago

Energy stocks pull Australian shares higher, NZ also rises

* Energy stocks gain more than 2%

* BHP, Whitehaven Coal trade ex-div

* Myer Holdings rises after strong results

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

Sept 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday, tracking a global rally after a series of positive headlines out of Britain and Hong Kong and pushed higher by the energy stocks on a rally in crude oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1% to 6,616.2 by 0158 GMT, after falling 0.3% on Wednesday.

Equity markets worldwide rebounded after upbeat economic data from China, easing political tensions in Hong Kong and another Brexit delay provided some respite for investors worried about the global economic growth outlook.

Also supporting sentiment in Asia was news the United States and China had agreed to ministerial-level trade talks in Washington in coming weeks.

“While a drop in geopolitical risk premium comes as a welcome relief...with the omnipresent trade war clouds looming ominously over the market threatening to come thundering down at any time, the air remains thick with caution,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific Market Strategist at AxiTrader said.

Energy stocks gained more than 2%, after oil prices jumped more than 4% overnight, boosted by positive economic data from China.

However, oil prices dipped slightly in early Asian trade, after an industry report revealed a surprise buildup in U.S. crude stockpile last week.

Shares of Australia’s biggest oil and gas explorer Woodside Petroleum rose as much as 2.7% to mark its best day in more than two months, while its peer Oil Search advanced 2.8%.

Whitehaven Coal bucked the sector trend to fall about 9%, as shares of the country’s biggest independent coal miner traded ex-dividend.

Heavyweight financial stocks also climbed 1.3%, with top lenders Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rising 1.3% and 1.4%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Aussie shares of British lender CYBG Plc slumped 19.1% to hit a record low, after the company said it expected to increase its provisions.

The metals and mining sector ticked up 0.4%, buoyed by strong iron ore futures, with Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group adding between 2.4% and 3.9%.

However, capping gains in the mining sector index was a 1.3% fall in BHP Group, the world’s biggest miner and Australia’s largest firm by market value, after it traded ex-dividend.

In the retail space, Myer Holdings jumped 11.4%, after the department store operator swung back to an annual profit, supported by its turnaround strategy of ditching low-margin brands and a series of cost cuts.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7% to 11,089.16, with dairy firm a2 Milk Company and Fletcher Building leadings with gains of 2.3% and 2.6%, respectively.

Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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