Australian shares rose after a long weekend on Tuesday, boosted by financials and energy shares, while the technology sector slid in tandem with U.S. peers. The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.7 percent, or 41.1 points, higher at 5,718.70 by 0248 GMT. The benchmark ended flat on Friday and lost nearly 2 percent last week. Financial markets in Australia were closed on Monday for a public holiday. REA Group, Computershare Ltd, and Carsales.com, which form a substantial chunk of the Aussie tech sector, fell in a range of 0.8 percent and 1 percent, tracking a rout in U.S. technology shares.
“Over the weekend, we saw infotech stocks coming for some profit-taking and it looks as though investors are looking elsewhere for value,” said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. “The attention seems to be turning to some of the big up sectors in the Australian market, particularly the financial and oil stocks.”
Financial stocks were the biggest gainers on the main index with profits concentrated in the ‘Big Four’ banks, which rose in the range of 1.5 to 1.8 percent. Macquarie Group, Australia’s fifth-biggest bank by market value, was about 1.5 percent higher.
The utilities and energy sectors were pushed up by higher oil prices, lifted by news that OPEC-leader Saudi Arabia was making significant supply cuts to customers. Utility stocks Origin Energy and APA Group, both with significant natural gas interests, rose 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Australian oil and gas majors Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search added 0.9 percent and 0.6 percent. On the other hand, mining stocks remained soft after two straight weeks of losses as the outlook for iron ore remained bleak as worries prevailed about a growing glut of iron ore in China, the world’s top buyer of the commodity.
Base metals prices dipped too as investors awaited a U.S. Federal Reserve meeting and economic data from China to gauge future demand growth. Mining giant Rio Tinto was off 0.2 percent, while rival BHP was about 0.1 percent down.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index seesawed as gains in financials and consumer cyclical stocks grappled with losses in the tech and consumer staples sectors. Building materials maker Fletcher Building and Skycity Entertainment Group were the biggest gainers on the main index by weight, up 2.1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
Auckland International Airport was the biggest drag on the benchmark, and software services firm Xero Ltd was the biggest percentage loser, down nearly 2 percent.