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Australia shares end at highest in a month; New Zealand flat

[BENGALURU] Real estate stocks boosted Australian shares to their highest close in a month on Wednesday, buoyed by gains in shopping centre company Westfield after it received a takeover offer from France's Unibail-Rodamco SE .

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.14 per cent or 8.600 points to 6,021.800 at the close of trade, registering a fifth consecutive session of gains. The benchmark climbed 0.25 per cent on Tuesday.

US and UK mall operator Westfield surged 13.7 per cent to its highest since Oct 2016 , pushing the index up, after saying it would accept a US$16 billion takeover bid from Europe's biggest property firm Unibail-Rodamco.

Other real estate stocks Scentre Group and Stockland Corporation gained 1.6 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

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Market voices on:

"We've got some news of takeovers which is buoying the market," said Ben Le Brun, an analyst at Charles Schwab Australia.

Cleanaway Waste Management also supported the upward march of the index as it jumped 8.4 per cent and was among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark.

The waste management company had said on Monday it would buy smaller rival Tox Free Solutions for A$3.425 per share in cash, valuing Tox at A$671 million (S$685.14 million) on a diluted basis.

On the other hand, banks reversed gains earlier in the session and were the biggest drag, with the Australian financial index dipping 0.2 per cent, snapping five consecutive sessions of gains.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 0.5 per cent, pulling the benchmark down, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined slightly.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.05 per cent or 3.770 points to finish the session at 8,284.580, stretching a winning run to a fifth consecutive session.

Construction company Fletcher Building accounted for most of the gains as it climbed 1.4 per cent to a more than 1-1/2-month high.

REUTERS

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