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Australia shares rise for 4th day, NZ at new record, on political relief

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose for a fourth straight session on Tuesday as investors cheered the end of political roadblocks in Britain and at home, while New Zealand stocks nudged further into record territory.

Britain's ruling Conservative Party elected Theresa May prime minister, filling a leadership vacuum created by David Cameron last month when he resigned after the surprise vote to leave the European Union.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meanwhile held on to power at the weekend when election counters determined he won a knife-edge election after more than a week of counting.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 47.4 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 5,384.5 by 0225 GMT. Helped along by upbeat US jobs data on Friday, the benchmark is up nearly 5 per cent in four days.

"There does seem to be a bit of relief with Theresa May stepping forward in the UK and it looking like the Coalition will be able to elect Malcolm Turnbull prime minister very soon," said CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy.

"That, against the backdrop of much improved US data on Friday night, is giving investors cause to cheer."

Banks, which have been vulnerable to global economic headwinds, led the market higher, with Westpac Banking Corp up 2 per cent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 1.2 per cent, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group up 1.8 per cent and National Australia Bank 1.5 per cent higher.

Resources stocks also rose after prices of some key commodities such as iron ore gained ground. BHP Billiton gained 2 per cent, while its spin-off South32 jumped 4 per cent. Iron ore major Fortescue Metals Group gained 2.3 per cent and BHP rival Rio Tinto was up 0.6 per cent.

Retailers edged higher. Wesfarmers, which owns No 2 supermarket chain Coles, was up 0.6 per cent while larger rival Woolworths crept up 0.1 per cent. Metcash, another supermarket company, was up 0.9 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up for a second day, rising 18 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7,080.44 - a record intraday level.

The subsidiaries of Australian banks posted strong gains, recovering from falls the previous week after S&P's ratings downgraded Australia'a debt outlook. ANZ rose 1.82 per cent and Westpac was up 1.32 per cent.

Fletcher Building was up 1.14 per cent while Sky City rose 2.19 per cent.

Telecommunications infrastructure provider Chorus rose 0.7 per cent as the government sought views on telecommunications regulations favoured by Chorus.

REUTERS