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Australia shares edge higher after US election results; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares moved off from a choppy session to end higher on Wednesday as markets enjoyed some relief after Democrats won control of the US House of Representatives as expected.

The broadly in-line results ensured no big shakeout in markets, with stocks in Asia and US futures losing just a bit of steam after days of uncertain trade ahead of the US midterm elections.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.37 per cent or 21.700 points to 5,896.900 at the close of trade. The benchmark rose nearly 1 per cent on Tuesday.

"The risk was that one side would get both Houses because if the Republicans got both they'd drive for tax cuts, while if the Democrats got both they'd push pack everything," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

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"But with these results, there shouldn't be too much damage by either party... so you're seeing a relief rally coming through."

Financial stocks were the biggest boost to the index, closing 0.6 per cent up, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia rising 0.7 per cent and Westpac Banking Corp edging 0.9 per cent higher.

"Nobody is buying the banks domestically right now, it's just currency play for the global investors. They want to stay out of the emerging markets as they wait for President (Donald) Trump to respond to this election cycle," Mr Somasundaram said.

While most sectors ticked up towards the end, the metals and mining index edged down after steel and iron ore futures took a hit as Beijing eased production curbs for winter as part of its winter anti-smog drive.

Global miner BHP fell 0.7 per cent and was the biggest drag on the index while Newcrest Mining Ltd slipped 0.3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.44 per cent or 38.3700 points to finish at 8,854.7900.

Energy stocks Z Energy Ltd jumped 4.9 per cent while Contact Energy Ltd gained 3 per cent.

REUTERS