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Banks, healthcare stocks lift Australia shares


Global sentiment boosted by strong U.S. corporate earnings


Energy, gold sectors lead laggards

(Updates to close)

By Archishma Iyer

Oct 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday, as gains in the healthcare and financial sectors overshadowed losses in gold and energy stocks, while strong U.S. corporate earnings also bolstered sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.3% higher. The benchmark rose 1.7% on Tuesday.

Global risk confidence received a boost from Wall Street overnight on positive financial results, even as investors remained cautious about how much hawkish central banks worldwide are willing to be to fight inflation.

"I think the market is probably due for some more upward movement going forward," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking. "I think we've gone through the maximum pessimism phase and people are looking for bargains."

However, Kerry Craig, global markets strategist from J.P. Morgan, said investors should be prepared for volatility in the local market to continue, as the bourse has experienced some large swings in the last two weeks.

Back home, financials led gains, climbing about 0.4%, with the three of the country's "Big Four" banks rising in the range of 0.7% to 1.4%.

The healthcare sector rose 0.5%, helped by a higher U.S. dollar, with index major CSL advancing nearly 0.5%

On the flip side, the energy sub-index lost about 0.8%, with Woodside Energy and Santos dropping about 1% and 1.3%, respectively.

Additionally, the gold index was dull, falling about 1.1%, on a stronger dollar, with Newcrest Mining trading 1.9% lower.

Whitehaven Coal shares rose 1.1%, even as it reported a 23% drop in quarterly production due to flooding in New South Wales, where its projects are located.

Inclement weather across Southeast Australia has disrupted operations across various companies, as the country continues to reel under the La Nina effect.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose about 0.6% to end at 10,916.7. (Reporting by Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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