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Australia shares end higher amid global relief rally; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed to a one-month high on Monday, tracking a global relief rally buoyed by strong US jobs data and soothing comments from the US central bank chief, while mining and energy stocks gained traction on higher commodity and oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 1.14 per cent, 63.8 points, to close at 5,683.20. The benchmark shed 0.3 per cent on Friday.

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell on Friday said he was aware of risks and would be patient and flexible in policy decisions this year, offering relief to jittery markets which were hoping for a dovish outlook.

Fears of a sharp slowdown in growth were also soothed by data showing US employers hired the most workers in 10 months in December while boosting wages.

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US President Donald Trump's also helped sentiment by commenting that talks to de-escalate atrade war with China were going well.

The metals and mining index jumped 2.3 per cent to its highest close since Oct 16 as iron-ore futures rose after China's central bank eased lending policy.

The world's biggest listed miner BHP Group rose 3.3 per cent while rival Rio Tinto Ltd firmed 2.7 per cent, boosting the benchmark.

Financial stocks tacked on about 1.1 per cent to hit an over 4-week high, with the "Big Four" lenders gaining between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent. AMP Ltd was among top per centage gainers on the sub-index, firming 4.1 per cent.

The country's energy index jumped 2.4 per cent to its highest in more than three-weeks, with sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd climbing 1.7 per cent and Origin Energy up 1.4 per cent.

Energy companies gained after oil prices rose by more than 1 per cent, boosted by hopes of progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks and supply cuts by major producers.

Meanwhile, the gold sub-index slipped after overnight losses in gold prices amid improving risk appetite, with miner Northern Star Resources Ltd among top per centage losers, off 3.2 per cent.

The healthcare sub-index also fell, with Healius Ltd losing most after rejecting a buyout approach from a Chinese construction company.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7 per cent or 62.28 points to finish the session at 8,806.04.

A2 Milk Company Ltd rose 3.6 per cent, while Synlait Milk Ltd strengthened 2.7 per cent.

REUTERS