January 3, 2019 / 12:24 AM / 5 months ago

REFILE-Australian export stocks jump as currency skids; NZ dips

(Fixes literal in 4th paragraph)

* Aussie dlr hits weakest level against U.S. dlr in nearly a decade

* Mining and gold stocks rise heavily on weaker unit

* Healius jumps after receiving takeover bid from top shareholder

By Nikhil Nainan

Jan 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares jumped the most in a week on Thursday as a sharp drop in the local dollar spurred buying of export-oriented stocks, especially resource firms.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 1.3 percent, or 73.8 points to 5,631.60 by 0014 GMT. The benchmark closed 1.6 percent lower on Wednesday in its first trading session of 2019.

Sentiment was dampened on Wednesday after a Chinese manufacturing survey pointed to a further slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, which particularly affects Australia as China is its largest trading partner.

The Aussie dollar sank against its U.S. peer to as far as $0.6715 at one point, the lowest in nearly a decade

“The Aussie dollar is falling sharply and the winner is the mining sector, and within that gold,” said Damian Rooney, a director of equity sales at Argonaut.

Mining stocks rose 1 percent, while gold stocks surged as much as 2 percent to the highest since August 2016.

Pilbara Minerals was the top percentage gainer among miners, climbing as much as 14.4 percent. The lithium producer executed a memorandum of inderstanding with South Korean steelmaker POSCO.

Among gold producers, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining boosted the sub-index, rising 2.5 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Rooney added that despite the weak Chinese data, China is still a major and profitable market for Australian companies.

In the M&A space, healthcare company Healius Ltd, formerly known as Primary Health Care, jumped nearly 15 percent after receiving a A$2.02 billion ($1.41 billion) bid from its largest shareholder to buy it out.

The news sent its shares to their highest in two months, and biggest intra-day percentage gain since early 2016.

The benchmark’s top constituents, financials, joined in the broader gains, rising 1.5 percent, supported by the Big Four banks.

On the other hand, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent, or 32.88 points in its first trading session of the year, and was last at 8,778.39.

Shares of Kathmandu Holdings dragged the index lower as it fell 12.1 percent after reporting a 1 percent drop in its same-store sale for 22 weeks ending Dec. 20, 2018.

For more individual stocks activity click on ($1 = 1.4461 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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