1. Australia shares up as financials gain on Janet Yellen’s hawkish comments; New Zealand up

Australia shares up as financials gain on Janet Yellen’s hawkish comments; New Zealand up

Australian shares rose on Friday as financials were boosted by a strong rally in their counterparts on Wall Street as comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and upbeat U.S. economic data bolstered the case for a rate hike in the U.S. next month.

By: | Published: November 18, 2016 11:10 AM
Strong gains in bank stocks underpinned U.S. shares overnight after Yellen said the Fed could raise interest rates 'relatively soon', while U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in six months in October. (Reuters) Strong gains in bank stocks underpinned U.S. shares overnight after Yellen said the Fed could raise interest rates ‘relatively soon’, while U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in six months in October. (Reuters)

Australian shares rose on Friday as financials were boosted by a strong rally in their counterparts on Wall Street as comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and upbeat U.S. economic data bolstered the case for a rate hike in the U.S. next month.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 pct, or 8.8 points, to 5,347.4 at 0105 GMT.

Strong gains in bank stocks underpinned U.S. shares overnight after Yellen said the Fed could raise interest rates ‘relatively soon’, while U.S. consumer prices recorded their biggest increase in six months in October.

Traders are pricing in an 83 percent chance of a December U.S. rate hike, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“Markets across the board are taking heart from Yellen’s comments, and the financials had a very good night in the US, and that’s reverberated quite nicely here domestically” said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at OptionsXpress.

The financials index rose as much as 0.7 percent to three-month highs.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and QBE Insurance Group Ltd also touched three-month highs, rising 0.8 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

National Australia Bank jumped 1.1 percent to six-month high.

Telecommunication stocks had another strong day, with the index up 2.4 percent for its third straight session of gains.

Telstra Corp was the biggest gainer on the main index after the telco on Thursday flagged cost cuts of over A$1 billion ($739.60 million) by FY2021.

Vocus Communications rose as much as 1.3 percent.

Gold producer Northern Star Resources fell as much as 5 percent to its lowest in 6 months, hurt by lower global prices for the yellow metal.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent to 6,858.29 at 0105 GMT, led by industrials and utilities.

Auckland International Airport Ltd was the top performer on the index rising as much as 2.5 percent.

Utilities Meridian Energy Ltd and Mercury NZ Ltd rose more than 1 percent each and were among the top ten gainers by points on the benchmark index.

Energy generator and retailer Contact Energy Ltd rose for the fifth straight session.

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