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Australia Shares End Higher as Mining, Energy Stocks Firm

* Prime Minister revises unemployment forecast upwards

* Melbourne enters six-week lockdown

* Ironore, base metal prices benefit from China demand (Updates to close)

By Soumyajit Saha

Aug 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Thursday, following a firmer finish on Wall Street, as mining and energy stocks rallied on the back of higher commodity and oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.68% to 6,042.2 at the close of trade. It had earlier risen as much as 0.8% after all three major U.S. indexes booked gains overnight on a surprise profit from Disney and hopes for a new coronavirus relief package.

The benchmark pulled back slightly after the domestic government hiked its unemployment forecast due to the reimposition of restrictions in the country’s second-most populous state of Victoria.

“The market is still benefiting from the afterglow of the Wall Street performance, but after the not-so-good domestic news it is just managing to hold on to the gains”, said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

Australian stocks have rallied nearly 40% after hitting their lowest this year in March, but a recent jump in domestic coronavirus infections and the reimposition of lockdowns have weighed on investor sentiment.

Leading the gains on Thursday, mining stocks surged more than 2% as iron ore and base metal prices jumped and gold steaded near record highs.

Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto gained 4.9% and 1.5%, respectively.

Energy companies Santos Ltd and Ampol Ltd advanced 3.8% and 2.2%, respectively, after oil prices hit a five-month high overnight.

The country’s largest financial advisory firm, AMP Ltd , said on Thursday the chief executive of its domestic wealth arm resigned, as the unit navigates hefty outflows and lawsuits. Its stock gained 0.7%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed largely flat, as losses in healthcare and consumer stocks offset gains made by financial stocks.

Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by AdityaSoni

Source: Reuters

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