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Markets

Australia shares rise ahead of US stimulus plan, NZ flat

  • Oil Search gained 3.1%, followed by Woodside Petroleum, up 2%.
15 Jan 2021

Australian shares advanced on Friday as investors anticipated a $1.9 trillion stimulus package from US President-elect Joe Biden to kick-start the economy and speed up response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3% to 6,715.3 points by 2314 GMT, but was still on track for a small weekly loss.

Antipodean stocks had been bereft of clear direction this week as investors awaited details of the US stimulus package, digested news of impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and eyed upcoming corporate earnings.

Biden is set to propose a fresh spending package aimed at boosting the US coronavirus vaccine program and providing more direct relief for US households.

Tech stocks led the way on Australia's benchmark bourse as they added 1.2%.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay rose 3.9% and Altium gained 2.1%.

The mining sub-index rose more than 1%, with Champion Iron adding 4.2% and Orocobre gaining 2.6%.

Shares of mining heavyweights BHP and Fortescue rose 2.9% and 1.7%, respectively.

Energy stocks were up 1.5% as oil prices firmed overnight on the back of a weak dollar and bullish signals from Chinese import data.

Oil Search gained 3.1%, followed by Woodside Petroleum, up 2%.

Advances outnumbered decliners by 710 to 412, a 1.7-to-1 ratio. There were 83 new highs and 39 new lows.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was roughly flat at 13,107.29 points. The index was poised to lose more than 3% for the week.