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Australia: Shares climb for seventh straight day; NZ flat

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rallied for a seventh straight session on Thursday, with financials leading the gains on record closing highs on Wall Street, and brushing off losses in material stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up at 0.3 per cent or 14.623 points to 5,904.5 by 0045 GMT. The benchmark ended flat at 0.02 per cent on Wednesday.

Wall Street posted record closing highs on Wednesday, driven by strong earnings, while US Treasuries declined in price as investors focused on monetary policy and the dollar snapped a four-day rally.

Financial stocks gained as much as 0.8 per cent to a five-month high, with the "Big Four" banks adding between 0.6 per cent and 1 per cent.

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"The banks turned into a positive sector about two weeks ago, when the currency bottomed. As the currency rises, the global guys are buying into it," said Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist with Blue Ocean Equities.

"We've seen a positive results season for financials out of the United States as well. Overall, banks are having a pretty positive outlook, and that's playing out for us."

Materials slipped as much as 1.6 per cent as copper prices slid on profit-taking after the recent rally to three-year highs.

BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost as much as 2.5 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively.

Miner South32 Ltd fell as much as 3.1 per cent to more than a four-week low after reporting a 66-per cent drop in first-quarter coking coal production on the prior quarter.

"We have Chinese GDP data and industrial production coming out - I'd expect them to be strong, and if they're strong we should see a bounce in resources," Mr Somasundaram said.

China's statistics bureau will release third-quarter GDP on Thursday, along with September industrial output.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose slightly at 0.1 per cent, or 9.66 points to 8,124.68.

Telecoms and industrials led the gains.

Telcom company Spark New Zealand Ltd rose as much as 1.6 per cent to a three-week high, while Auckland International Airport Ltd climbed 0.8 per cent.

REUTERS