Australia shares edge up on tech, gold firms; NZ scales new peak

Gold stocks
Gold stocks

In December 2018, the S&P 500 fell over 9%, impacted by an intensification in the Sino-U.S. trade war as U.S. interest rate trudged and slackened corporate growth.

The Australian benchmark managed to escape with just a 0.3% drop across the same period. Gold stocks recovered from early losses to add 0.1%, with Northern Star Resources putting on 2.2%, while Ramelius Resources added 3.1%. Technology stocks rose 0.6%, helped by software maker Wisetech Global which rose 2.7% and Link Administration Holdings which added 1.7%. Xero gained 1%.

Meanwhile, financials traded flat, weighed by underwriters a day after the index’s second-largest insurer QBE Insurance Group highlighted higher entitlements payouts at its North American crop business in 2019. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 4.5 points or 0.1% to 6,855.9 by 0052 GMT.

The benchmark closed flat diagonally Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Many macro developments markets were expecting including Brexit and a trade armistice has now been spoken, said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking. However, marketplaces are likely to remain on edge gave the steep plunge U.S. stocks posted in December last year, as well as developments on the ongoing impeachment proceedings of U.S. President Donald Trump.

No. 1 insurer Insurance Australia Group Ltd fell 1.7% while Suncorp Group lost 0.3%. QBE, however, managed to recover 0.5% after a steep fall in the prior session. Offsetting the sector’s losses, wealth manager AMP, fund manager IOOF Holdings and investment bank Macquarie Group all gained more than 1% each.

The index was heightened after data showed New Zealand’s economy grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the third quarter on robust retail spending, lifting sentiment. Australian shares inched up in narrow ranges on Thursday sustained by gains in technology and gold firms, with investors fundamentally on the byproducts ahead of the Christmas.