Australian stocks stretch gains on banking and tech


December 24 (Reuters) – Australian stocks rose on Friday, led by banking and tech stocks after an overnight Wall Street rally as concerns eased over the economic impact of the Omicron variant, while AMP Ltd jumped after announcing the sale of its infrastructure debt platform.

The S & P / ASX 200 Index (.AXJO) rose 0.6% to 7,430.7 at 11:39 pm GMT and was heading for a fourth straight session of gain. The benchmark index was on track for its best week since the week ended November 5.

The Australian and New Zealand markets will close early Friday and will remain closed Monday and Tuesday for the Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.

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Financials (.AXFJ) rose 0.8%, with the Big Four banks gaining between 0.5% and 0.7%.

AMP Ltd (AMP.AX) led the gains on the benchmark, climbing 5.3% after the wealth manager announced it would sell its infrastructure debt platform to Ares Management (ARES.N ) as part of a strategy to streamline its private market activities ahead of a spin-off next year. Read more

AMP, which also led gains on the financial sub-index, was aiming for its best week in 10 months.

Tech stocks (.AXIJ) followed the Nasdaq (.IXIC) higher, rising 0.8%. Wisetech Global (WTC.AX) rose 2.8%, followed by afterpay heavyweight (APT.AX), which rose 1.4%.

Meanwhile, Australia reintroduced COVID-19 restrictions such as mandatory indoor mask wear and capacity limits as daily infections hit an all-time high, fueled by the highly infectious variant of Omicron. Read more

Miners (.AXMM) rose 0.4%, with Rio Tinto (RIO.AX), BHP Group (BHP.AX) and Fortescue (FMG.AX) gaining between 0.3% and 1.2%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark stock index (.NZ50) rose 0.2%, with health care and consumer stocks leading the gains.

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Report by Tejaswi Marthi in Bangalore; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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