November 26, 2015 / 2:33 AM / 4 years ago

Australia shares buoyed by banks, healthcare; miners unloved

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.8 percent on Thursday following two sessions of losses with financial and healthcare stocks leading gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 40.119 points to 5,233.8 by 02:20 GMT. It dipped 0.6 percent on Wednesday.

“Buyers thought it was time to strike today to pick up some of these banks and high-yielding defensive names,” said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress.

Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of Australia each rose around 1.7 percent, while National Australia Bank added 1.1 percent and ANZ Banking Group 0.8 percent.

The healthcare sector was also in demand with Sigma Pharmaceuticals up 2.0 percent to touch its highest price since August. Blood-products maker CSL was another outperformer with a jump of 1.4 percent and pulling closer to a record high touched in August.

Orica Ltd, the world’s largest maker of mine explosives, rose 3 percent, slowly recovering after the company announced a drop in earnings earlier this month.

Another slide in the price of iron ore .IO62-CNI=SI, Australia’s top export earner, weighed on mining shares. The mineral fell to its lowest based on The Steel Index which began its records in 2008.

BHP Billiton dropped 0.6 percent, while Rio Tinto eased 0.4 percent.

Lawfirm Slater and Gordon was another casualty, slumping as much as 54 percent to a record low after the British government unexpectedly announced proposed changes to laws that would restrict the rights of people injured in road accidents to obtain compensation for pain and suffering.

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New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.2 percent or 13.29 points to 6,082.43, pulling closer to a record peak of 6,108.35 touched this week.

The biggest gainers were Heartland, which was up 2.3 percent and the Warehouse, up 1.2 percent. Profit taking continued A2 Milk, down 3.6 percent while Xero (XRO.NZ) shed 1.8 percent. (Reporting by Cecile Lefort and Rebecca Howard; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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