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Australia shares end higher as China, U.S. data spur recovery bets

* Gold, tech stocks lead on Aussie benchmark

* NZX 50 index rose 0.4%

April 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed near 14-month highs on Friday as upbeat economic data from the United States and record first-quarter economic growth in the country’s largest trading partner China supported hopes of a global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 settled 0.07% higher at 7,063.5 points after falling as much as 0.4% during the session. The benchmark gained for the fourth-straight week.

Global stocks neared record highs after U.S. retail sales, jobs and Chinese economic growth data cemented expectations of a solid global recovery from the coronavirus-induced slump.

“Even as the fall in bond yields dampened market’s recovery sentiment... a strong economic recovery in China lifted sentiment again,” said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive officer at Deep Data Analytics.

“Markets think they are still at risk in the U.S., the sentiment is that China is relatively stable, so we made losses in early trade because of the U.S. worries but we recovered on China doing okay.”

Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields fell despite the robust data, helping tech stocks advance.

The Australian tech sub-index added 0.5%, tracking an overnight rally on the Nasdaq. Altium gained 3.2%, while EML Payments firmed 2%.

Gold stocks shined as they jumped 2.9% on the back of lower yields and a weaker dollar. Newcrest, the country’s biggest gold miner, rose as much as 4.7%.

By contrast, energy stocks were the worst-performing sector on the benchmark, weighed down by an 8.9% slump in electricity and gas retailer Origin Energy.

Shares of Origin tumbled after it lowered its annual energy market profit forecast after being ordered to pay Beach Energy more for gas supply following a contract price review.

Beach shares ended 4.6% higher on the news.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 rose 0.4% to 12,684.7 points. (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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