By Kenan Machado
Most global markets lacked direction early Tuesday, though Australia's benchmark reached its highest point since early 2008.
Through the third quarter, equities in Australia lagged behind other markets world-wide. But they came alive last month as prices for stocks and commodities rose globally.
In addition, Hong Kong stocks continued to rebound. After erasing a decline of nearly 2% on Monday, the Hang Seng Index rose 1% Tuesday to hit a fresh 10-year high, aided by a 2.9% jump from Tencent Holdings.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 4% in October, its best month of the year, and is up another 1.5% for the first week of November to put 2017's gain at 6%. On Tuesday, the index briefly topped 6000 for the first time since early 2008; it was last up 0.6% at 5998.
Major mining companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto led gains. They both rose more than 2% Tuesday to hit their best levels in two and six years, respectively.
Mining firms were helped by rebounding iron ore prices, which recently hit four-month lows. Futures prices on the Dalian Commodity Exchange in China shot up 5% on Monday and were recently up about 3.6%.
"Rising steel prices now have investors alert to the possibility that iron ore" might be putting in a base, "justifying a rally in the major mining stocks," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
Higher oil prices in U.S. trading gave other Australian stocks a lift. Santos and Woodside Petroleum each rose about 2.5%, with the former hitting its best level in 15 months.
After settling up 3% Monday, oil futures eased about 0.2% in early Asia trading.
No rate change is expected from the Reserve Bank of Australia later today, though there is a chance that its guidance, particularly on inflation, will become more dovish, analysts say.
Asian equity markets were quiet elsewhere, with benchmarks in Japan and Tokyo up less than 0.1%.
Write to Kenan Machado at [email protected]