(Update to close)
By Arundhati Dutta
30 July (Reuters) – Australian shares closed higher on Thursday as investors welcomed the Federal Reserve’s statement that they would use “various tools” to support a virus-stricken US economy, with an increase in technology stocks ahead of a series of key US earnings.
The S & P / ASX 200 index closed 0.74% higher at 6,051.1, halting two consecutive sessions of decline.
Fed policymakers reiterated pledges to keep interest rates near zero for as long as needed to recover from a coronavirus pandemic, but warned that “the economic path will be highly dependent on the path of the virus”.
“The fact that the US Federal Reserve has some pretty dovish comments gives investors little confidence that there will be support, even though we continue to see large COVID cases in Australia,” said James Tao, a market analyst at Commsec.
Australia reports a record jump in COVID-19 new cases with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections mainly in the state of Victoria.
“We have lower US futures at the moment, so we can see the US market giving back some of the recent gains … that might lead to a softer start for Aussie stocks tomorrow,” Tao said.
However, he said, “That is one situation where you cannot look too far ahead with much certainty.”
Most major sub-indices closed higher, with gold stocks the only drag after the gold price fell.
Technology shares led gains by 2.4%, marking their best session in more than a week, after Facebook, Apple and Alphabet’s Google closed higher overnight ahead of their earnings.
Among the top gainers, Afterpay Ltd and WiseTech Global rose 1.6% and 5.9% respectively.
Energy stocks closed 1% higher, helped by heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S & P / NZX 50 index rose 0.8% to 11,692.02, with main gainers Mainfreight Ltd and A2 Milk Co. each up nearly 3%. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)