Australia shares pushed higher by miners, oil stocks; NZ gains

By Rushil Dutta

July 11 (Reuters) – Australian shares posted small gains on
Tuesday in thin trading as investors awaited the start of major
second-quarter U.S. earnings reports and Federal Reserve Chair
Janet Yellen’s congressional testimony later this week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose on Monday, added
0.2 percent to 5,737.30 at 0230 GMT, helped by gains in basic
materials and energy shares.

Miners benefited from a sustained rally in iron ore prices,
as the most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange
rose for a third straight day.

That sent shares of heavyweight miners BHP and
Fortescue Metals Group up 1.2 percent and 3 percent
respectively.

Rio Tinto shares were up about 0.5 percent but
gains were capped by a slump in base metal prices, with copper
falling to its lowest since June 27 on Monday and aluminium
seeing its biggest single-day drop in over two months.

A slight rise in oil prices fuelled further share-price
gains for stocks of Aussie oil and gas majors, with sector
bellwether Woodside Petroleum up about 0.6 percent and
fuel supplier Caltex Australia nearly 1 percent higher.

Aussie financials were among the top gainers for a second
day with the ‘Big Four’ banks, seen as a barometer of the
sector’s health, climbing between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent.

Volumes across the board are expected to remain weak as
investors watch for Yellen’s monetary policy testimony on
Wednesday and Thursday for clues on when the Fed will again
tighten U.S. monetary policy.

“Most people have positioned their portfolios ahead of this
(Yellen’s testimony) and very few people are prepared to react
if she does really go into little more depth about her own
personal views on financial conditions,” said Chris Weston, an
institutional dealer with IG Markets.

“Her views at the moment are well known to the market and it
shouldn’t be too surprised by what she’s saying now.”

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.4
percent, or 31.87 points, higher at 7,615.82 helped by consumer
staples and telecom shares.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk and telecom firm Spark
New Zealand were among the biggest gainers on the
benchmark, up 3.7 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

While gains were largely broad-based, the energy sector saw
some weakness with fuel retailer Z Energy slipping.
(Additional reporting by Chandini Monnappa; Editing by Richard
Borsuk)