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Australia shares end higher for third consecutive session; NZ flat

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher in thin trade on Thursday mirroring gains on Wall Street, pushed up by financials and basic materials stocks gaining on higher base metal prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.3 per cent, or 16.89 points higher, to 5753.3. Trading volumes were 0.7 times the 30-day average.

US shares ended higher on Wednesday despite Federal Reserve's December meeting showing concerns that quicker economic growth under President-elect Donald Trump could require faster interest rate increases to ward off inflation.

The basic materials index gained 0.42 per cent, its highest since Sept 2, 2014, powered by an overnight surge in copper price on a brightening demand outlook for Chinese metals.

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Copper miners Oz Minerals Ltd and Sandfire Resources NL gained 3.42 per cent and 3.61 per cent respectively.

Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd rose 0.1 per cent, tracking three consecutive session of gains, while peer Rio Tinto Ltd gained 0.2 per cent.

The gold index closed 2.5 per cent higher on the back of rising gold prices, with Newcrest Mining Ltd gaining 1.8 per cent.

The financial index gained 0.45 per cent to end at its highest in over 17 months, with the "Big Four" banks leading the rally.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd followed suite by ending at its highest in 17 months up 0.4 per cent, while National Australia Bank Ltd gained 0.9 per cent.

Engineering and construction giant WorleyParsons Ltd rose 2.4 per cent after announcing renewal of a general engineering services contract with Saudi Aramco.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat as losses in industrials and consumer cyclicals were offset by gains in telecom services and utilities.

Auckland International Airport Ltd ended 1.1 per cent lower, while Spark New Zealand Ltd gained 2.9 per cent, its highest in nearly a month.