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Australia: Shares end at 5-month high aided by material stocks; NZ flat

[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Monday, to finish at their highest in five months, on the back of strong base metal prices that led material stocks higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.6 per cent higher or 32.646 points at 5,846.8, its highest since May 16. The benchmark index rose 0.3 per cent on Friday.

The materials index closed at a more than one-month high with BHP Billiton Ltd rising 2.3 per cent, to a one-month high.

Chinese rebar steel futures advanced for a third straight day to hit a one-month peak on Monday, while London copper prices eased but still stayed near three-year highs.

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Steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel Ltd finished 3.1 per cent higher and Mineral Resources Ltd, which provides mining infrastructure services across the country, closed at a record high.

The financial sector gained contributing to the rise of the benchmark index, with the country's "Big Four" banks closing between 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent higher.

Westpac Banking Corp closed 0.5 per cent higher and National Australia Bank Ltd gained 0.3 per cent, both closing at around a five-month high.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat or 1.41 points higher at 8,090.73.

Growth in New Zealand's services sector slipped in September as an inconclusive general election hit sales activity.

Acting Prime Minister Bill English on Monday said it could take until the end of the week to confirm the country's next government.

Telecommunications services and materials sectors rose, but industrial and consumer staples offset gains on the index.

Fletcher Building Ltd and Spark New Zealand Ltd closed 1.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent higher, respectively.

Air New Zealand Ltd shed 1.3 per cent and a2 Milk Company Ltd edged 0.9 per cent lower.

REUTERS