Nov 19 (Reuters) - Australia shares inched higher on Friday,
with financials and the healthcare sector lifting the benchmark,
while resource-related stocks weakened as commodities slid on
broadening fears of rate hikes and inflationary risks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1% at 7,379.2 points,
as of 1146 GMT. The benchmark, however, was headed towards a
0.8% weekly loss, its biggest since Oct. 29.
Investors await U.S. President Joe Biden's final decision on
his nominee to head the Federal Reserve, which could decide the
timeline on tightening policy. (https://reut.rs/3HCI9ci)
Banking stocks snapped a three-day losing streak to
gain up to 0.7%, with the "Big Four" banks all trading in the
Shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.1%
after falling about 9.5% in the last two sessions.
Healthcare stocks added 0.7% in their third straight
day of gains, with biotech major CSL Ltd climbing 0.6%.
Gold stocks, however, were the biggest laggards on the
benchmark, losing 1.8% as bullion prices were hurt by bets for
an earlier-than-expected rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The prospect of early interest rate hikes would increase the
opportunity cost of holding non-yielding gold.
Heavyweight miners declined 0.7% amid weaker iron
ore prices, with Australian Strategic Materials down
4.3% to be the top loser in the sub-index.
Tech stocks fell 0.8%, snapping a five-day streak of gains,
even as two of three major indexes on Wall Street closed at
WiseTech Global Ltd and BNPL major Afterpay Ltd
were leading losses in the sub-index, down 2.8% and
Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
was down 0.3% to 12,800.3 points.
A Reuters poll found that the country's central bank will
raise rates for the second meeting in a row on Wednesday and
continue with its tightening spree next year.
In other markets, the S&P 500 E-minis futures were
(Reporting by Yamini C S; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)