June 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday ahead
of data that is expected to show the country's economy continued
to grow in the first quarter, with strong commodity prices
boosting stocks of local mining and energy companies.
The benchmark ASX 200 index rose 0.4% to 7,169.5 by
0004 GMT, after having closed 0.3% lower on Tuesday.
The Australian economy likely expanded by 0.6% in the first
quarter, a Reuters poll showed, maintaining a steady pace of
recovery from a coronavirus-induced downturn last year.
Investors also took heart from a decline in
locally-transmitted COVID-19 infections in Australia's
second-most populous state, Victoria.
Mining stocks, the biggest constituent on the
benchmark, rose for a fifth straight day, up 1.7%, as iron ore
surged on hopes of output curbs easing in steel hub Tangshan.
Heavyweights Rio Tinto, BHP Group and
Fortescue Metals gained between 3% and 5%.
Energy stocks also rose 2.7% as oil prices hit their
highest since March.
Natural gas majors Woodside Petroleum and Santos
Ltd added 2.6% and 3.9%, respectively.
The financial index climbed 0.3%, with the "big
four" banks rising 0.2% to 0.4%
However, the gold index shed 1.8%, as the yellow
metal's prices slipped from a five-month peak hit in the
Gold miners Evolution Mining and Resolute Mining
shed about 2.4% and 2.5%, respectively.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
remained largely unchanged at 12,458.52.
The top percentage loser on the bourse was Tourism Holdings
Ltd, down about 2.3%.
In other regions, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.3% at
28,718.14, while the S&P 500 E-minis futures were down
2.5 points, or 0.06%.
(Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)