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Australia shares close near 10-year high; NZ hits record high

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed near a 10-year high on Tuesday as optimism over the US tax bill boosted global investor sentiment, while stronger commodities prices supported a rally in materials stocks.

Wall Street hit record closing highs on Monday as the tax bill moved closer to passage with Republican US Senator Susan Collins saying on Monday she would vote for the tax overhaul.

All 10 sector indices rose, with the S&P/ASX 200 index rising 0.5 per cent or 32.9 points to 6,071.8 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.7 per cent on Monday.

Materials stocks led the gains on the benchmark as they benefited from a rally in iron ore futures.

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Heavyweight BHP rose 0.8 per cent to its highest since Nov 9 and accounted for most of the gains on the benchmark, while its peer Rio Tinto Ltd climbed 1.3 per cent to a more than one month closing high.

Financials followed closely, with the sector index adding 0.4 per cent.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

Orocobre Ltd climbed 5.2 per cent to a record closing high and was among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark. The lithium explorer said on Monday it expects pricing for first half of 2018 to be about 25 per cent higher than prices received in second half of 2017.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7 per cent, or 57.05 points, to finish the session at a record closing high of 8,401.2.

Healthcare and consumer stocks drove the gains, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd rising 1.6 per cent to a record high, while a2 Milk Company Ltd climbed 2.3 per cent.

REUTERS