By Chao Deng
Shares in Australia rose to fresh one-month high and led most Asian markets higher Tuesday.
After shaking off a weak start, the S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.49% finished at the day’s high, up 59.7 points, or 1.2%, at 5267.3. It was the eighth-straight advance for the market, now at its highest since Nov. 23.
The benchmark rose with the help of consumer staples and discretionary shares, which rose 2.4% and 1.9%, respectively. Financial firms on the index, including banks, also rose 1.4%.
While volumes are light, these sectors are getting a boost from holiday-spending expectations, while banks stand to benefit from a higher interest-rate environment, said Andrew Sullivan, managing director at Haitong International Securities.
National Australia Bank Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB -0.37% gained 1.8%, Westpac Banking Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203084975/delayed AU:WBC +0.02% rose 1.5% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia /zigman2/quotes/200638713/delayed AU:CBA +0.19% and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group /zigman2/quotes/205482049/delayed AU:ANZ -0.49% both climbed 1.4%. Banks can start charging higher margins when benchmark rates rise. Earlier this month, the U.S. Federal Reserve increased short-term rates for the first time in years.
Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +3.46% was up 0.4%, while the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +1.56% was up 0.9% after a 2.6% selloff Monday, its worst daily percentage drop in a month.
A fresh selloff in oil prices kept a cap on the gains. Energy shares were roughly flat in Australia and down 0.4% in Hong Kong.
While last week’s respite in oil-price declines helped lure investors back to the sector, U.S. crude prices fell again Monday, down 3.4%. That pushed U.S. stocks lower, with energy shares notching some of the steepest declines.
Brent crude oil prices were last up 0.4% to $36.75 a barrel in Asia trade Tuesday.
In China, investors continue to gauge several concerns as the year winds down: scrutiny by Chinese officials over capital flight as the economy slows; a potential flood of new shares to the market next year as China launched a registration-based IPO system; and possible selling by large Chinese shareholders next year, once authorities allow them to. A six-month ban on selling by large shareholders, put in place during July, is set to expire in early January.
Hong Kong-listed property developer China Vanke Co. /zigman2/quotes/203851375/delayed HK:2202 +4.33% took another step to counter a possible unsolicited takeover from a company that owns a large chunk of its shares, by striking a deal to potentially issue new shares to an unnamed investor. The statement didn’t disclose details such as the identity of the investor, the assets it might sell or how many shares it might issue.
Shares of the firm remained suspended, having soared 19% this month through Dec. 18.
Shares of Real Nutriceutical Group Ltd. , which has been targeted by short seller Glaucus Research Group California LLC, were down 3.6% even after the firm said late Monday that its chief executive had stepped in to support the stock. Shares plunged 16% Monday when they resumed trading for the first time following a suspension on Oct. 22. The firm sells nutritional supplements and health drinks.