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Aussie shares take heart from Santos bid, NZ higher


[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended 0.3 per cent higher on Thursday, drawing strength from Santos Ltd which spiked to its highest in more than a year after turning down a takeover bid, prompting speculation of a new offer.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.2 per cent or 9.265 points to 5943.5, snapping four straight losing sessions. The benchmark dropped 0.6 per cent on Tuesday.

Santos Ltd, Australia's third-largest independent gas producer, said it had rejected a A$9.5 billion takeover approach from Pennsylvania-based Harbour Energy in August, deeming the offer inadequate.

Santos shares ended 13 per cent higher.

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Financial stocks also gained with three of the "Big Four" banks up between 0.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent. Westpac Banking Corp shed 0.3 per cent, its fourth falling session.

The New Zealand central bank on Wednesday ordered Westpac's New Zealand unit to boost capital levels after Westpac failed to meet capital adequacy requirements.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia easily overcame protest votes against executive remuneration and board appointments at an annual general meeting.

Australian employment rose for a 13th straight month in October, the longest stretch of gains since the early 1990s, with the jobless rate dipping to its lowest in more than 4-1/2 years.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.4 per cent, or 34.76 points, to 8034.7 with consumer staples and utilities stocks leading the rise.

Dairy company a2 Milk was the biggest boost to the index, ending up 2.1 per cent while generator Contact Energy Ltd rose 2 per cent.