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Australia: Shares climb on commodity prices; NZ inches up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Monday, with material and financial stocks leading the gains following a jump in commodity prices and record closing highs on Wall Street.

Zinc prices touched a decade-peak on Friday, supported by potential shortages and low inventories, while Wall Street continued its rally as fourth-quarter earnings kicked off with strong results from banks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent, or 18.3 points, to 6,088.4 by 0033 GMT.

"We had some very strong gains on Friday night in Europe and the US, so it is likely that all of the markets across the Asia-Pacific region will see positive starts today," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

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"We are also seeing good support for commodity prices, and given Australia's exposure to those sectors, that's also a positive for the market."

Australia's metals and mining index rose as much as 1.6 per cent to a five-year high.

That index is "leading the charge, and does look like the sector to watch," said Mr McCarthy.

BHP Billiton gained as much as 2 per cent to its highest in more than three years, while fellow mining heavyweight Rio Tinto jumped to a more than six-year high, rising as much as 1.4 per cent.

Further pushing materials up were gold stocks, on track to gain for a third straight session. They rose as much as 2.5 per cent, as the yellow metal hit a four-month high on a weakening US dollar.

The top gainer on Australia's main index was Evolution Mining, rising as much as 4.7 per cent and posting its biggest intraday percentage gain in nearly five months.

Financial stocks climbed as much as 0.5 per cent, with the 'Big Four' banks adding between 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up 0.098 per cent, or 8.06 points, to 8,250.41, with utilities, materials and industrial stocks outperforming other sectors.

Metro Performance Glass jumped as much as 2.1 per cent and was the biggest gainer on the index.


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