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Australia shares climb as Rio Tinto, financials gain; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Tuesday as Rio Tinto rose on expectations of higher iron ore prices owing to a tighter market, despite reporting a 14 per cent fall in quarterly shipments.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.4 per cent, or 26.0 points, to 6,277.40, having ended flat Monday.

Rio, the world's second largest iron ore miner, gained 0.5 per cent even as it cut its 2019 shipments estimate after a tropical cyclone hit quarterly shipments.

Supply disruptions in Australia and elsewhere have resulted in prices of the steelmaking material surging to multi-year highs, boosting shares of miners.

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However, peers BHP Group Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd retreated 0.4 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively, ahead of their quarterly production reports this week.

Financial stocks rose 0.8 per cent, extending gains for a third straight session and hitting a 1-month closing high.

The 'Big Four' banks climbed between 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent, with No. 1 lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia advancing 0.7 per cent.

The healthcare index advanced 1.3 per cent, supported by a 7.9 per cent jump by bionic ear maker Cochlear Ltd.

Cochlear on Tuesday announced a new implant which will be commercially available in Germany and other European countries in the coming months.

Shares of export-oriented biopharma firm CSL Ltd also ended up 0.6 per cent as the Australian dollar slipped after policymakers talked of easing.

Australia's central bank believes a cut in interest rates would be "appropriate" should inflation stay low and unemployment trend higher, though there was no strong case for a move in the near term.

On the other hand, energy stocks snapped three consecutive sessions of gains to decline 1.6 per cent as oil prices slipped on oversupply woes.

Oil & gas explorer Woodside Petroleum Ltd fell 0.9 per cent, while Oil Search Ltd lost 0.4 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended up 0.6 per cent, or 62.04 points, to 9,908.39. The index rose for a fourth straight session.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk Company Ltd climbed 3.6 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd added 1.4 per cent.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd was the worst performer on the index, falling 5 per cent after its full year net profit missed the firm's forecast.

REUTERS