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Australia shares end slightly firmer as miners support; NZ slips

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Australian shares pared earlier gains to finish 0.2 per cent higher on Monday, with strength in miners countered by a fall in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares pared earlier gains to finish 0.2 per cent higher on Monday, with strength in miners countered by a fall in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 12.2 points to 5,841.3 at the close of trade after rising as much as 0.7 per cent earlier on relief that the fallout from U.S.-led strikes on Syria over the weekend appeared limited.

The benchmark rose 0.2 per cent on Friday.

The United States, France and Britain launched missiles targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities in Syria in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Douma earlier in April.

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Top miner BHP Billiton was the biggest boost on the index, rising 0.8 per cent to its best close since March 1.

South32 Ltd rose 3.2 per cent, while Alumina Ltd closed up 2.7 per cent at its highest in seven years.

Shanghai aluminium prices hit a two-month high after Rio Tinto said it would declare force majeure on certain customer contracts in light of U.S. sanctions on its partner, Russian aluminium giant Rusal.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia capped the gains on the index, reversing from a 0.5 per cent rise earlier to fall 0.7 per cent.

Australia's four biggest retail banks and wealth manager AMP have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation to customers for poor advice over the past decade, a major inquiry into the financial sector heard on Monday.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent or 8.42 points to finish the session at 8,406.35.

Healthcare stocks accounted for most of the index's losses, with Ryman Healthcare falling 2.6 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation down 0.7 per cent.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company helped cut some losses on the index, firming 2.2 per cent after announcing plans to expand into South Korea.

The country's biggest telecommunications and Internet provider Spark New Zealand closed up 1.5 per cent after securing rights to stream the Rugby World Cup 2019.

REUTERS

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