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Australia: Shares end at their highest in nearly 17 months

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed at their highest in nearly 17 months on Wednesday, resuming their post-Trump rally after losses in the previous session as basic materials stocks led broad-based gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1 per cent, or 57.05 points, higher at 5,685, the highest close since Aug 4, 2015.

The benchmark had lost 0.3 per cent on Friday, the last trading before a holiday break, but gained 1.7 per cent last week.

The benchmark is on track to rise for a third-straight quarter in what will be its longest streak of quarterly gains since March 2014.

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Investor sentiment was also supported by a higher Wall Street on news that American consumer confidence shot to its highest in more than 15 years in December.

US equities have been riding a post-presidential election rally, feeding on optimism that Donald Trump's plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending could bolster the economy.

The Australian mining index on Wednesday closed at its highest since mid-December, as a rally in base metals prices drove gains.

Major miners Rio Tinto, Fortescue, and BHP Billiton added between 2.4 per cent to 3.5 per cent.

Gold stocks were the top performers among miners, with Resolute Mining seeing its biggest percentage gain in four months, as gold prices extended gains on strong technical signals.

Consumer stocks too advanced, with retailers Woolworths up 1.9 per cent and Wesfarmers gaining 1.1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat as gains in consumer cyclicals and energy stocks were offset by losses for industrials and staples.

Shares of SKY Network Television were among the biggest gainers on the benchmark, up 2.7 per cent, while a loss of 2 per cent in Auckland Airport stocks weighed down both the industrial sector and the benchmark.