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Stocks up Down Under as Australian dollar firms past $0.8 mark

Stocks climbed, bonds fell and the Australian dollar crossed the $0.8 mark Down Under ahead of a rates decision on Tuesday from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.7 per cent as the financial segment climbed 0.8 per cent. Shares in energy and fuel wholesaler AGL Energy rose as much as 2 per cent amid local media reports that it has begun an auction for its smart metering business.

Stock market gains in Sydney came despite continued gains for the Australian dollar, which crossed the $0.8 mark to hover around $0.8038.

With the outlook for a rates rise from the RBA subdued, the country’s government bonds were faring poorly. The yield, which moves inversely to price, on Australia’s 10-year government note was up 3 basis points at 2.715, a four-day high.

Shares in Hong Kong were gaining momentum after a slow start, with the Hang Seng index up 0.5 per cent on a 1 per cent rise from the financials segment. Shares in HSBC climbed another 0.6 per cent, bringing them 3.2 per cent higher for the week after the announcement of a $2bn share buyback on Monday.

In Tokyo the Topix was up 0.4 per cent as financials rose 1.1 per cent ahead of earnings from major groups including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, which was up 1.2 per cent. Rival Sumitomo Mitsui Financial was also up 2.2 per cent.