Gold Price Analysis – Australia shares rise on firm commodity prices, passage of U.S. stimulus plan
* Iron ore miners gain as China import data shows firm demand
* Santos tops energy index losses as top shareholder cuts stake
* NZ index dips, Fisher & Paykel loses most (Updates to close)
March 8 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose on Monday led by gains in heavyweight resource stocks on stronger commodity prices, while the passage of a $1.9 trillion U.S. COVID-19 relief plan and strong trade data from China raised hopes for a quicker economic recovery.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to end at 6,739.60. The benchmark fell 0.7% on Friday.
Over the weekend, the U.S. Senate passed President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan, one of the largest stimulus bills in U.S. history, while data showed that the U.S. economy created more jobs than expected in February, boosting risk appetite globally.
News out of Asia was also positive, with data on Sunday showing China’s iron ore imports rose 2.8% for the first two months of 2021, as demand for the steelmaking ingredient was supported by a firm consumption outlook.
Price of iron ore, Australia’s biggest export to top consumer China, has surged in recent months, boosting shares of major miners of the commodity.
BHP Group rose 2.4%, while rival Rio Tinto added nearly 3%. The smaller Fortescue Metals Group inched marginally higher.
Energy companies rose after brent crude futures surged above $70 a barrel for the first time since the pandemic began. Woodside Petroleum rose 0.8%, while Beach Energy jumped 4.1%.
Bucking the broader trend, Santos fell 2.7% after its largest shareholder, Chinese energy company ENN Group, sold about a third of its stake worth A$785 million ($605 million) in the Australian company.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8% to finish the session at 12,085.18. Medical devices maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was the top loser, down 4.2%. ($1 = 1.2975 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)