* NIB Holdings top gainer on ASX
* Energy index down 2%
* Tech stocks up 1.2%
Nov 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Thursday
as gains in banks and tech stocks offset a slide in energy
heavyweights, while the U.S. Federal Reserve's plan to taper its
bond purchases also boosted sentiment.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5% to 7,428 points at
the close of trade. The benchmark climbed 0.9% on Wednesday.
Major indexes on Wall Street clocked strong gains after the
United States Federal Reserve said it would begin trimming its
monthly bond purchases in November, with plans to end them in
That led the tech stocks to rise 1.2%, with Appen
gaining 3.2% to lead gains on the index.
"Currently, investors can be satisfied that the Fed seems to
be in no rush to get rid of the policy punch bowl," said Kunal
Sawhney, CEO of equities research firm Kalkine Group. He added
that changes in the economic outlook could prompt central banks
to modify plans.
Gold stocks rose 0.5% on stronger bullion, while
financials added 1% as Australia's 'Big Four' banks
advanced between 0.2% and 1.4%.
Insurer NIB Holdings led gains on both the
benchmark index and financial index, rising 5.8%, as its premium
revenue rose in the first quarter.
Investors seemed to shrug off data from the Australian
Bureau of Statistics, which showed that the country's retail
sales for the third quarter fell 4.4% and also missed a Reuters
"A rebound is now evidently underway, given the high rates
of vaccination that is propelling the Australian economy to
reopen," Sawhney said.
Energy stocks fell 2%, their worst session in over
six weeks, following a slump in oil prices on concerns over
increased global supply.
Beach Energy fell 5.2%, while Worley lost
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4%
to finish the session at 12,943.94 points.
(Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by