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Australia shares edge up on financials, materials; NZ slightly up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged up on Wednesday, bolstered by gains in materials and financials, while gold stocks suffered as the US dollar stabilised after several days of losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent, or 16.1 points to 5,666.20 by 0106 GMT.

"The Australian market is tracking gains from Wall Street, and there were also some good leads from the oil sector," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG Markets.

US stocks recovered strongly after Monday's dip and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq set record highs in a broad rally as investors shifted focus to US corporate earnings from Mr Trump's protectionist stance on trade.

"We also saw a jump back in bond yields which is healthy for the financial sector over in the US," said Mr Lucas.

Locally, Australian consumer prices rose by less than expected last quarter while annual core inflation stayed stuck at an all-time low, keeping alive the risk of yet another cut in interest rates.

"I don't see a rate hike, neither do I see a rate cut for next 12 months from January to December," Mr Lucas added.

The ASX financial index was up 0.7 per cent, with the"Big Four" Aussie banks rising 0.6 per cent to one per cent.

The Australian metals & mining index gained as much as 1.7 per cent, to its highest since Sept 2014.

BHP Billiton rose 1.8 per cent, after it reported strong second quarter earnings, hitting its highest since June 2015.

The miner said it was on track to meet its fiscal 2017 iron ore production target of 265 million-275 million tonnes.

Rival miner Rio Tinto rose almost 3 per cent to its highest in 29 months.

Rio agreed to sell its Australian unit Coal & Allied Industries Ltd to Chinese government-controlled Yancoal Australia Ltd for up to US$2.45 billion in cash.

Shares of Yancoal Australia were up 4.2 per cent.

Meanwhile gold stocks took a hit after two straight gaining days, with Newcrest Mining, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining falling 1.1 per cent to 2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained marginally, supported by healthcare and industrial stocks.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd rose 1.4 per cent, while Auckland International Airport Ltd was up 0.7 per cent.


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