May 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Monday, driven
by gold stocks on higher bullion prices, while Ampol and Viva
Energy lifted the energy index after both fuel suppliers
received a massive government funding to keep their refineries
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.4% at 7,038.5 points,
as of 0057 GMT. While the benchmark gained 0.5% on Friday, it
clocked its biggest weekly drop since Feb. 26.
Energy stocks rose as much as 2.1% and eyed their
best session in nearly two months, benefiting from a jump in
Ampol Ltd and Viva Energy, while higher oil
prices also helped.
Ampol and Viva Energy were the top gainers on the benchmark
after the government announced A$2.3 billion ($1.79 billion) in
support to keep the last two oil refineries operated by the
companies open at least until 2030.
Gold stocks gained as much as 4.1% after data showed
U.S. retail sales unexpectedly stalled in April and boosted the
safe-haven metal's appeal.
The sub-index was on track to record its best one-day gain
since April 16.
Heavyweight gold miner Newcrest Mining rose as much
as 2.6% to hit its highest in more than three weeks, while
Northern Star Resources gained up to 5.3% and eyed its
best session in two weeks.
A rebound in major Wall Street indexes, including the
tech-heavy Nasdaq further aided sentiment.
Technology stocks in Australia rose 1%, with
software maker Xero Ltd rising 4.4% and leading gains
on the sub-index.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index rose 0.4% to 12,412.34 points.
Skycity Entertainment and NZX Ltd were the
top gainers on the benchmark, up around 2.4% each.
($1 = 1.2882 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry