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Australia, NZ: Shares up again as global rally continues

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose for a fifth straight day on Wednesday, aided by banking and resources counters and by hopes of economic stimulus in some major countries.

At 0216 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was up 15.88 points, or 0.3 per cent to 5,369.1, below the day's high of 5,389.3. The benchmark gained 0.3 per cent on Tuesday as investors cheered the end of political roadblocks in Britain and at home.

But the Australian rally seems to be losing steam with analysts seeing strong resistance at 5,400 points. In May, the index briefly breached 5,400, but then fell back.

"It's been almost 12 months since our index spent significant time above this level and the psychological impact of this number should not be underestimated," said Gary Huxtable, client adviser at Atlantic Pacific Securities.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters in the past week predict the benchmark will touch 5,500 points by year-end, which would mean a 2016 gain of 3.9 per cent after two years of dismal performance.

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The index is up 1.4 per cent so far this year.

On Wednesday, banks, resources and energy sectors helped lift the index while consumer discretionary, healthcare and telecom shares declined.

The major banks were mixed with ANZ Banking Group and National Australia Bank up 0.8 per cent each while Westpac was down 0.1 per cent.

Major miners BHP Billion and Rio Tinto rose more than 2 per cent. Fortescue jumped 5.4 per cent.

Wesfarmers, which owns Coles supermarket, was down 1.25 per cent while Treasury Wines slipped 2.5 per cent. Telecom giant Telstra fell 0.2 per cent.

Gold miners were weak too with Newcrest Mining, Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources tumbling between 3.5 and 6.1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.08 per cent or 5.54 points to 7,085.00 on Wednesday, after hitting a record of 7,088.920 the previous session.

Property companies led gains, with Investore Property leading the index and up 1.86 per cent. Vital Healthcare rose 1.16 per cent.

Online auction firm Trade Me was up 1.85 per cent and Heartland Bank rose 0.8 per cent.

Dairy companies also gained with A2 Milk rising 1.08 per cent and shares in Fonterra's fund, which provides exposure to the farmer-owned dairy exporter, up 0.74 per cent.

Telecommunications company Spark led losses, falling 1.83 per cent and Mighty River Power lost 1.29 per cent.


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