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Australia shares extend gains on materials; NZ falls from record high


[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended slightly up to finish near a 10-year high for a second straight day on Wednesday, with gains in materials outweighing losses in healthcare and telecom stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 3.8 points to 6,075.600 at the close of trade, reversing from slight losses earlier in the session. The benchmark added 0.5 per cent on Tuesday.

Materials accounted for most of the gains on Wednesday, with the metals and mining index climbing 0.6 per cent to its highest close since Nov 7, recording eight consecutive gaining sessions.

Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.9 per cent, while South32 Ltd climbed 1.2 per cent. Iron ore prices gained 0.8 per cent during the past two days before pausing on Wednesday, while copper prices were up slightly.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.3 per cent, accounting for most of the gains on the benchmark.

Energy stocks also traded in positive territory, tracking oil prices. Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 0.7 per cent to its highest close since Nov 10.

Telco Telstra Corporation Ltd and healthcare heavyweight CSL Ltd were the biggest drags on the benchmark, falling 1.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index retreated from a record high earlier in the session to finish Wednesday's session 0.2 per cent or 17.64 points lower at 8,383.56.

New Zealand reported a slightly larger-than-expected current account deficit in the third-quarter domestic companies foreign earnings were lower than foreign firms' earnings from their New Zealand operations, official data showed.

Heavyweight a2 Milk Company Ltd declined 2.6 per cent, pulling the index down, while Z Energy Ltd dipped 2.3 per cent.