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Australia: Shares follow Wall St higher


[SYDNEY] Australian shares finished higher on Thursday, tracking Wall Street after it closed at record highs and getting support from firm oil and copper prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.15 per cent, or 8.385 points, to 5,785.01 at the close of trade. The benchmark closed 0.9 per cent higher on Wednesday.

Major US indexes scaled record peaks on a busy day of corporate earnings reports, as the Fed maintained its benchmark lending rate and noted that both overall inflation and a measure of underlying price gains had declined.

Oil prices rose to near eight-week highs on Wednesday, while copper hit a more than two-year high on expectations of solid Chinese economic growth and curbs on scrap imports to China that could boost demand for refined copper in the world's largest metals consumer.

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Materials, financials and real estates led the gains.

BHP Billiton hit more than a five-month high, while Rio Tinto rose 0.6 per cent.

The 'Big Four' banks added between 0.1 and 0.3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index had a marginal rise of 0.015 per cent, or 1.13 points, to finish at 7,711.72.

Gains in consumer staples were offset by losses in healthcare and telecom stocks.