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Australia shares rise as Omicron shock eases; set for fourth weekly loss

12/02/2021 | 07:37pm EST

Dec 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained ground on Friday, as the initial shock of the Omicron coronavirus variant weaned away and the market looked to recoup some of its losses from earlier in the week when the new variant cases were reported in the country.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 index was up 0.33% at 7,249.1 by 2351 GMT, but was on track to lose 0.6% for the week in its fourth weekly loss.

Heavyweight miners lifted the index, surging as much as 1.9%, with blue-chip miners BHP Group, Rio Rinto and Fortescue advancing between 2% and 3.5%.

Banks gained about 0.8%, rising for a fourth straight session, with all the "Big Four" banks trading in the positive.

Top two lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank gained more than 1% each.

Oil stocks, too, rose as much as 1.6% after oil prices settled more than 1% higher overnight. Oil Search climbed as much as 2.5%, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd gained about 1.7% each.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks lost as much as 2.1% as bullion prices hit a one-month low on fears that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise interest rates earlier than expected.

Newcrest Mining fell as much as 2.4% to a two-month low, and Northern Star Resources shed up to 1.8%.

Biotech giant and Australia's fourth largest company by market value CSL Ltd declined more than 1%. According to media reports https://www.reuters.com/markets/deals/australias-csl-exclusive-talks-buy-swiss-vifor-pharma-report-2021-12-02, CSL is in exclusive talks to buy Swiss drugmaker Vifor Pharma in a A$10 billion ($7.09 billion) deal.

However, both CSL and Vifor declined to comment on the media speculation.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.21% to 12,697.

($1 = 1.4110 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
BHP GROUP -4.81% 45.7 Delayed Quote.10.12%
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA -1.26% 97.37 Delayed Quote.-3.59%
CSL LIMITED -2.48% 264.52 Delayed Quote.-9.01%
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED -2.10% 20.94 Delayed Quote.9.01%
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED -1.32% 28.32 Delayed Quote.-1.80%
NEWCREST MINING LIMITED -1.14% 25.26 Delayed Quote.3.19%
NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES LIMITED 1.03% 9.83 Delayed Quote.4.46%
OIL SEARCH -2.42% 4.04 End-of-day quote.0.00%
S&P/ASX 200 -2.27% 7175.8 Real-time Quote.-3.61%
SANTOS LIMITED -2.62% 7.07 Delayed Quote.12.04%
VIFOR PHARMA AG -0.49% 161.1 Delayed Quote.-0.71%
WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LTD -2.40% 25.19 Delayed Quote.14.87%
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