Aug 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday,
supported by heavyweight banks and strong performances from
mining stocks following global miner BHP Group's record dividend
and upbeat earnings.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 42.5 points or 0.6% at
7,106.8, as of 0035 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.5% lower on
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.3% while S&P
500 E-minis futures were down 0.2%.
BHP, the world's largest miner by market value,
declared a record dividend on higher annual profit, owing to
strong commodity prices and higher sales from its Western
Australia iron ore operations.
The stock surged as much as 5.5%, versus a 0.5% gain in the
broader mining sector index.
Other industry heavyweights Rio Tinto and Fortescue
Metals Group traded marginally higher.
Financial stocks rose 0.8%, helped by three of the
country's "Big Four" banks rising between 0.1% and 0.6%.
Energy firms, however, provided a counterweight as
they slipped 0.9%, with weak data from China weighing on oil
prices. Shares of Woodside Energy fell 2.1%.
Top loser in the benchmark index was investment manager
Challenger Ltd, which shed 11.9% in its worst session
since April 2021 after reporting a lower full-year profit.
Fibre cement maker James Hardie Industries slashed
its annual profit forecast on account of a slowing housing
market. Shares of the company were trading 1.8% lower.
Shares of Tassal Group hit their highest level
since August 2019 after the aquaculture firm said it had
accepted a buyout bid from Canada's Cooke Inc, at an enterprise
value of A$1.70 billion ($1.19 billion).
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3%
($1 = 1.4263 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Sherry