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Australia shares rise on US stimulus hopes, gold stocks boost

  • The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 6,708.5 by 0010 GMT, with miners leading the charge.
Published December 17, 2020
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Australian shares rose on Thursday as gold miners posted hefty gains on a stronger bullion, while expectations for a massive US stimulus bill boosted broader risk sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 6,708.5 by 0010 GMT, with miners leading the charge.

Gold stocks gained as much as 1.5% after prices of the yellow metal firmed on hopes of a stimulus package in the United States. Newcrest Mining climbed 1.5% and Northern Star Resources gained 2.3%.

US congressional negotiators were "closing in on" a $900 billion COVID-19 aid bill and Congress could start voting within 24 hours, lawmakers and aides said. Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve reiterated its pledge to keep its benchmark interest rate near zero.

Gains from gold stocks helped heavyweight miners jump 0.9%.

BHP Group gained 1.2% and Fortescue Metals Group added 2.1% as iron ore prices rose on supply concerns in China as shipments are expected to slow.

Rio Tinto was up 0.6% after the miner confirmed a $6.75 billion price tag on underground expansion at its Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia while locked in a feud with a majority-owned partner over funding for the project.

Following a strong lead from US peers, local tech stocks scaled a record peak, with Afterpay and Xero jumping 4.1% and 2.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Canberra launched a formal appeal to the World Trade Organisation on Wednesday seeking a review of China's decision to levy heavy tariffs on Australian barley imports as ties between the trading partners continued to strain.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5% to 12,892.98 after the country reported a record 14% surge in third-quarter gross domestic product as virus curbs were relaxed, beating expectations.

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