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Australia: Shares end higher on positive note; Wall Street

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose 2.13 per cent on Thursday with broad-based gains as investors took a positive view on minutes of the Federal Reserve's October monetary meeting.

The minutes, which suggested an interest rate hike in December was firmly on the cards, were seen to be showing confidence in the US economy's ability to absorb a rate rise.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 109.5 points to 5,242.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark edged up 0.3 per cent on Wednesday.

Shares in mining giant BHP Billiton rose 3.08 per cent after the company said its priority was to maintain a healthy balance sheet.

It made no direct comment on future dividends amid speculation that tumbling commodity prices will force BHP to cut its payout.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was up 0.26 per cent or 15.44 points to finish the session at 5,995.25.

REUTERS