Australian shares recouped early losses to trade higher on Wednesday with miners among the biggest gainers following a rise in commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3 percent or 19.7 points to 5,733.90 at 0321 GMT. The benchmark has risen 0.2 percent this month. Higher commodity prices helped the materials and the energy sectors as the U.S. dollar took a significant backwards step on Tuesday after the euro gained, said Ben Le Brun, a market analyst at OptionsXpress.
The euro rose to a 10-month high after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi signalled it will reduce stimulus later this year. Among commodities, oil rose for the fourth consecutive session on Tuesday while gold bounced back from a six-week low. Chinese iron ore prices surged 6 percent to one-month highs on Tuesday in a late burst of short covering and fresh buying that lifted steel and raw materials.
Australia’s metals and mining index rose as much as 1.5 percent to a two-week high, on track to extend gains into a fifth session. Anglo-Australian miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd gained 1.8 percent and 1.7 percent respectively. South32 Ltd rose 4 percent and Fortescue Metals Group climbed 3.9 percent.
The financial sector also contributed to the gains on the benchmark. Insurance Australia Group Ltd rose as much as 4.8 percent, to a record high, after it upgraded its margin forecast for full-year 2017. However, three of the “Big-Four” lenders declined marginally.
Losses in the industrial sector capped gains on the benchmark with Transurban Group falling 1.6 percent and Sydney Airport Holdings declining 1.5 percent. Though the market largely shrugged off losses on Wall Street triggered by the delay in a healthcare bill vote in the U.S. Senate, Australia’s health care sector tracked its U.S. peers lower. CSL Ltd dropped 0.6 percent while Ansell Ltd shed 1.3 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was off a marginal 0.04 percent or 2.78 points to 7,623.57. New Zealand’s central bank said saw the economic growth outlook as positive, but international uncertainties remained and the strong housing market was still a risk. Losses in consumer discretionary shares were offset by the gains in materials stocks.
Retailer Kathmandu Holdings Ltd and A2 Milk Company Ltd were the top losers on the index, falling 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.