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Australia: Shares climb on strong local earnings; NZ set for 5th day of gains

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares extended gains into a fifth session on Tuesday, buoyed by mining and energy companies such as BHP in the wake of rising prices for some commodities and a string of healthy earnings reports in the sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index had climbed 0.6 per cent, or 34 points, to 6,076.2 by 0103 GMT, after finishing the previous day up 0.7 per cent.

Australian markets were also boosted after US stocks on Monday hit their highest in over three weeks, with a decline in Treasury yields calming investor concerns about rising interest rates.

"We're getting into the back-end of the reporting season and its been pretty decent results on the stocks (that reported) today. You've got the US positive sentiment coming through as well," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

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Mining giant BHP rose 1.4 per cent, underpinned by strengthening iron ore and copper prices, while fuel supplier Caltex Australia climbed as much as 5.8 per cent to its highest in over two years after it reported a rise in first-half profit.

"(Caltex is) a unique retailer with energy exposure, and of course reflation with oil prices going up is going to increase their margins for the energy side of things," said Somasundaram.

Mineral sands company Iluka Resources gained up to 6.4 per cent, hitting an over four-year top, after reporting positive full-year results.

Bluescope Steel extended gains, up 3.7 per cent, after posting a sharp rise in half-year profit on Monday, helping push up the Australian mining index by 1 per cent.

Meanwhile, the 'Big 4' banks climbed between 0.8 per cent and 1.2 per cent, and horticulture company Costa Group was the best performer up as much as 13.8 per cent to an all-time high after posting an over four-fold rise in first half net profit.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 per cent, or 38.98 points to 8,379.51, on track to finish higher for a fifth straight session.

Investors seemed to shrug off data showing the country's annual trade deficit widened to NZ$3.22 billion ($S3.1 billion) in January from a deficit of NZ$2.84 billion a month before.

Electricity generator Trustpower Ltd was the best performer on the index, up 3.7 per cent, while a2 Milk's 1.8 per cent rise contributed the most to the index's gains.

REUTERS