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Australia shares climb for a fourth day; NZ up for a fifth

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Thursday, powered by financial stocks, as investors kept an eye out for US economic data expected later in the day for further cues.

Investors are waiting for a range of indicators, including the third revision of US third-quarter gross domestic product, to gauge the strength of the economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index extended gains into a fourth straight session, climbing 0.5 per cent, or 30.43 points, to 5,643.9 at the close of trade.

The "Big Four" banks closed up 0.8 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

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Sentiment was boosted by expectations that Australian companies' profits are likely to grow in the fiscal year ending June 2017, following two straight years of declines.

Retail giants Wesfarmers and Woolworths gained 0.8 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

Oil major Woodside Petroleum closed more than 1 per cent firmer after oil prices edged higher in tepid Asian trade, supported by a weaker dollar.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose for a fifth straight day, gaining 0.7 per cent, or 49.1 points, to finish the session at 6,851.87.

Official data on Thursday showed gross domestic product rose 1.1 per cent in the third quarter, above economists' forecast of a gain of 0.9 per cent, putting New Zealand among the rich world's fastest-growing nations with annualised growth of 3.5 per cent.

The healthcare sector accounted for most of the gains. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was the top performer, jumping 4 per cent.

Trustpower Ltd rose 2.2 per cent while NZX Ltd closed 2 per cent higher.

REUTERS

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