May 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares on Thursday recovered
slightly from the heavy sell-off in the previous session, with
bank and technology stocks leading gains, though a drop in
commodity prices weighed on miners and energy sectors.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3% at 6,952.1 points
by 0030 GMT. The benchmark shed 1.9% on Wednesday, its lowest
close in April 7.
IT stocks gained as much as 2.7%, with
buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay Ltd rising 3.1% and
Appen Ltd surging for a second session after the
artificial intelligence company announced restructuring plans.
EML Payments rose 15.4%, and was the top gainer in
the benchmark and the tech sub-index, a day after the payments
solutions provider tumbled 50% on fears of regulatory curbs on
its Irish unit.
Financial stocks also saw gains, with the so-called
"Big Four" banks trading in positive territory.
Miners were the biggest losers in the benchmark,
dropping 2% to hit a more than two-week low on the back of a
drop in Chinese iron ore futures.
Global miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Ltd
dropped 1.7% each.
Energy stocks also fell as crude shed $2 on concerns
over rising COVID-19 cases in Asia. Oil and gas explorers Santos
Ltd and Woodside Petroleum slipped.
Healthcare stocks gained as much as 1.2% and eyed
their best session in one week, with biotech major CSL Ltd
Meanwhile, Qantas Airways Ltd jumped 3% to be among
top gainers in the index as the Australian carrier laid out more
cost-cutting measures in an effort to weather the COVID-19
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6%
to 12,354.56 points.
Investors turn their attention to the country's budget, due
later in the day, where the government is expected to target its
spending on tackling issues of rising homelessness and
($1 = 1.2953 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry