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Australia: Shares rise 0.2%; hit 6-week high


[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose for a sixth straight session on Tuesday to a six-week high, led by gains in banks and consumer staples, but plunging resources stocks capped a sharp rally.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.17 per cent, or 9.7 points, to 5,696.6 by 0249 GMT, a level not seen since June 2. All sectors rose except resources. The benchmark rose 0.3 per cent on Monday. "The banks are going well today. It's kind of like the opposite side of the coin to the materials stocks," Tom Piotrowski, market analyst at Commonwealth Securities said. "The market seems to have taken in its stride that tier 1 capital position news," he added.

Australia's banking regulator set a July 2016 deadline for the country's major banks to lift their capital reserves against mortgages to 25 per cent, the lower end of an expected band.

Solid gains in banks and consumer durables helped boost the index with National Australia Bank rising 1.2 per cent and Westpac Bank up 0.9 per cent.

Wesfarmers, which runs Coles supermarkets, and Woolworths rose about 0.7 per cent each.

Mining shares weighed heavily with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto falling 1.1 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively each. Gold miner Newcrest Mining fell as much as 5.6 per cent as gold hovered near a five-year low. "The weakness there has been sought out by opportunistic investors in banks," Mr Piotrowski added.

Terramin Australia fell 3.1 per cent after earlier hitting its highest since April 2012 after its joint venture deal ended.

Base metal miner South32 fell 3.3 per cent after Morningstar downgraded to 'accumulate' from 'buy'. The stock has fallen about 11 per cent since its debut on May 18.