By Robb M. Stewart
MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares bounced back Tuesday as investors picked up heavily sold bank stocks and a recovery by miners added support.
The local market initially built on losses the past two sessions, with a lack of global cues to offer fresh direction as U.S., U.K. and Chinese bourses were closed on Monday. After nearing a three-month intraday low early in the session, the S&P/ASX 200 steadily recovered to finish 10.8 points, or 0.2%, higher at 5717.9.
The shift in sentiment was supported by data showing a rise in home building permits in April, rebounding from a slump the month before. Concerns over the property market have heightened in recent months as prices in Melbourne and Sydney have continued to rise even as household debt has grown.
"There's definitely a lot of bargain hunting today," said Gary Huxtable, client adviser at wealth management firm Atlantic Pacific Securities, adding investors "starved for local positive data" welcomed the building-permit numbers.
Each of the four biggest banks saw gains for the day, eating into an almost 10% fall over the last three weeks since the government outlined plans for a tax on their liabilities to help it balance its budget. National Australia Bank led with a rise of 1.6%, Westpac Banking added 1%, Australia & New Zealand Banking picked up 0.8% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia was 0.7% higher.
After falling the last two sessions, BHP Billiton was up 0.7%, Rio Tinto was 1% stronger and Fortescue Metals Group advanced by 1.9%.
Still, weaker crude-oil prices in Asian trading weighed on the energy stocks, with Woodside Petroleum falling 1% and Oil Search losing 1.1%.
Write to Robb M. Stewart at [email protected]