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Australia: Shares hit 10-day top, New Zealand shares edge high

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose more than 1 per cent on Monday as a rally in oil markets pushed the index to a 10-day high.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.24 per cent or 60.8 points to 4,986.7 by 0140 GMT, near the session high of 4,986.7 points - the highest since January 15.

Energy shares underpinned gains. Origin Energy Ltd rose nearly 4 percent to hit a 10-day high of US$4.13 a share, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 3.3 per cent to hit a one-week top of US$26.38 a share after oil rose more than 10 per cent on Friday.

"The latest rebound in oil, combined with European and Japan central bank's hinting at further stimulus, has provided a short-term reprieve for what so far this year, can be described as a nervous and punishing market," said Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities.

Mining stocks edged lower, with BHP Billiton down 0.2 per cent, while Rio Tinto shed 1.2 per cent after hitting weakest since 2009 last week.

Financial stocks firmed, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia , ANZ Banking Group and National Australia Bank all up more than 2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was trading slightly higher early Monday after Wall Street fared better and on stronger oil prices. The index was up 0.4 per cent or 22 points at 6.143.97 in early trading.

Macquarie Equities Investment Advisor Brad Gordon said the Kiwi market might drift higher over the rest of the session, in particular as the Australian market looked set for a strong open.

Trade, however, is light with the capital city of Wellington on holiday. Gordon said investors are also treading water ahead of the reporting season due to kick off mid-February.

The biggest gainers were A2 Milk, up 4 per cent while Nuplex was up 3.5 per cent. In the other direction, Trade Me was down 1.7 per cent while Port of Tauranga was down 0.8 per cent.

REUTERS