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Australia: Stocks at 4-month high on boost from oil firms, financials; NZ flat

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose to their highest level in four months on Monday, as their fifth consecutive day of gains were underpinned by the post-US-election rally and on a surge in oil stocks after global oil producers agreed a deal to cut crude output.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose to its highest since early August, up 0.4 per cent, or 19.38 points, at 5,580.80 by 0107 GMT. The benchmark rallied over 2 per cent last week.

Financials and industrials in the US have been the biggest beneficiaries of Republican Donald Trump's election win, with markets betting the new administration will boost spending on infrastructure, cut taxes and simplify regulations.

The Australian financial sector has followed suit, adding 13.2 per cent since November 9 and currently hover around 16-month highs.

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The 'Big 4' Australian banks, seen as a barometer of the sector's health, rose between 0.3 per cent and 0.8 per cent.

"We have seen Opec and non-Opec producers agreeing, which is also boosting reflation expectation around the world," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets. "Traders want to be hedged against this situation, so people are buying financials globally. Everyone wants to benefit from a reflation trade, and financials are generally your natural hedge against that."

Energy stocks rose to their highest in 14 months after Opec and non-Opec producers on Saturday reached their first deal since 2001 to curtail oil output jointly after more than two years of low prices.

Santos and Woodside Petroleum were up 4 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively.

Origin Energy, which has significant natural gas interests, pushed up the utilities index with a 3.1 per cent gain.

Basic materials rose on the underlying bullish market sentiment for iron ore and steel, though the respective futures in China edged lower on Friday on profit-taking after a six-day rally.

Fortescue, the biggest beneficiary of the iron ore rally, was up 2 per cent. Mining majors Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were 0.8 per cent and 1 percent higher respectively.

The gold index, however, dived 3.7 per cent in light of a higher dollar and expectations the Federal Reserve will raise rates for the first time in 2016 at the two-day meeting that begins on Tuesday.

New Zealand's benchmark was flat after gains in financials stocks were offset by losses in consumer staples and industrials.

NZ-listed ANZ and Westpac shares added over 1 per cent each, while stock exchange operator NZX Ltd rose 1 per cent.

Consumer staples were pulled down by a 2 per cent decline in A2 Milk Company shares.

Industrials suffered as Air New Zealand and Auckland International Airport lost 0.5 per cent each.

REUTERS

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