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Aussie shares rebound, miners cheered by higher metals prices; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares bounced on Monday as miners rejoiced on higher metals prices, with the benchmark metal index soaring to its highest in more than two years.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 per cent or 32.98 points to 5754.6 by 0025 GMT. The benchmark lost 0.6 per cent last week.

Basic material stocks outperformed thanks to strong copper prices that hit a five-week peak on Friday, while aluminium jumped to its highest in nearly 20 months, after solid economic data from top metals consumer China and the United States fuelled optimism about metals demand.

The metal index rose as much as 1.8 per cent, with heavyweights BHP Billiton Ltd hitting its highest in seventeen months, and Rio Tinto Ltd rising as much as 2 per cent.

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Smaller iron-ore miner Fortescue Metals Group rose 2.0 per cent and was among the top gainers.

The gold index touched a two-month high, with shares of gold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd up 2.7 per cent, and Evolution Mining Ltd adding 2.3 per cent.

The yellow-metal was up on Friday, after the US dollar weakened and US Treasury yields came off their highs.

Financials also supported the benchmark with the 'big 4' banks rising between 0.14 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

"We saw good profit results from big US banks on Friday, which helped the Australian bank stocks," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist with CMC Markets, adding that markets are waiting for clarity on US President-elect Donald Trump's policies and their impact on bond yields, as rising bond yields could help bank stocks.

Wall Street had risen on Friday after major US banks kicked off their fourth-quarter earnings season with strong results.

Shares of energy firm Duet Group rose as much as 5.4 per cent, their highest in more than 8 years after it recommended a takeover offer from a consortium led by Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings.

Oil stocks underperformed as weaker prices weighed on the sector. Crude prices fell on Friday and ended the week 3 per cent lower on lingering doubts over the extent of Opec cuts. Oil Search Ltd shed 0.8 per cent, while Caltex Australia Ltd shed 0.5 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.2 per cent or 15.22 points to 7062.19 at 0039 GMT.

Utilities and consumer non-cyclical stocks were the top gainers with Meridian Energy Ltd adding 1.5 per cent and shares of a2 Milk Company rising 3.6 per cent.