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Australia, NZ: Resources and steel power shares higher

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[MELBOURNE] Australian and New Zealand shares climbed on Tuesday stoked by steel, mining and energy stocks, with commodities benefitting from better risk appetite as oil prices hit six-month highs due to supply worries.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose nearly 1 per cent, or 66.82 points to an all-time high of 6,980.95, as investors hunted for yield in the share market with bank interest rates at record lows.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index rose 28.65 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 5,387.10 by 0256 GMT, adding to a 0.6 per cent gain on Monday.

Steel companies were the top gainers in both Australia and New Zealand, with Bluescope Steel up nearly 10 per cent and Steel & Tube Holdings up more than 4 per cent, recovering from a slump over the past month, helped by signs of a pick-up in property investment and construction in China.

"There is a view that whilst the steel market is still very tough, there are some signs of green shoots," said James McGlew, executive director at broker Argonaut in Perth.

Producers of the key steel-making ingredient iron ore jumped, too, with Fortescue Metals surging 5.2 per cent. "There's been a palpable change in mood towards iron ore stocks in general," Mr McGlew said.

Top miner BHP Billiton, which is also an oil producer, jumped 3 per cent. Oil and gas producers Woodside Petroleum rose 2.3 per cent, while Santos jumped 5 per cent.

The big banks all climbed, except for National Australia Bank, which fell 3.2 per cent as it traded without rights to its dividend.

In New Zealand, high yielding electricity stocks performed well with Contact Energy rising 1.7 per cent and Meridian Energy up 3.31 per cent.

"As more funds come out of the banks into the market, brokers and analysts are directing them to those stocks in particular," said Grant Williamson, investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

REUTERS