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Australia: Banks and miners boost Australia shares


[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Thursday, gaining support from financials and materials for a rebound from the previous session's biggest sell-off this year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 per cent or 40.28 points higher to at 5,706.00. On Wednesday, the benchmark dropped 1.6 per cent.

Stocks regained "a bit of ground" on Thursday as there was bargain-hunting in some of the biggest banks, said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stock broking at Argonaut.

Financials accounted for more than half the index gains with "Big Four" lenders each rising more than 1 per cent.

QBE Insurance Group Ltd, which hit over a six-month low on Wednesday, recouped early losses to ended the session 1.3 per cent higher.

Gains in iron ore and gold prices helped push the miners up.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd closed 3.8 per cent higher and Newcrest Mining rose 1.5 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.5 per cent or 36.58 points higher to finish at 7,563.69.

Utilities and healthcare stocks lead index gains, with electricity retailer Contact Energy Ltd ending 2.3 per cent higher to its highest close in over 10 months and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd rising 1.2 per cent.

Consumer discretionary and energy stocks ended lower.