Australia shares end slightly up before Yellen testimony; NZ gains

(Updates to close)

July 11 (Reuters) – Australian shares ended marginally
higher on Tuesday ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s
congressional testimony later this week which investors will
glean for clues on when the central bank will again tighten U.S.
monetary policy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 4.46 points, or 0.1
percent, higher at 5,728.9 in a thin trading environment before
Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before Congress
on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Most people have positioned their portfolios ahead of this
(Yellen’s testimony) and very few people are prepared to react
if she does really go into little more depth about her own
personal views on financial conditions,” said Chris Weston, an
institutional dealer with IG Markets.

“Her views at the moment are well known to the market and it
shouldn’t be too surprised by what she’s saying now.”

Miners benefited from a sustained rally in iron ore prices,
as the most-traded iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange
rose for a third straight day.

Major miners BHP and Fortescue Metals Group
were up 1.1 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

Rio Tinto shares gained 0.8 percent.

A slight rise in oil prices fuelled further share-price
gains for stocks of Aussie oil and gas majors, with sector
bellwether Woodside Petroleum up about 0.2 percent and
fuel supplier Caltex Australia nearly 0.8 percent

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished up
0.6 percent, or 44.62 points, at 7,628.57.

Consumer staples and financial stocks pushed the benchmark
up, with dairy products maker a2 Milk posting the
biggest gains by weight, up 5 percent.
(Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Additional reporting by Chandini
Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)