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Australia: Shares hit 10-week peak, NZ extends record run


[SYDNEY] Australian shares climbed 0.7 per cent on Monday to a 10-week peak, mirroring gains in Europe and Wall Street in the wake of the European Central Bank's latest stimulus package.

Firmer oil prices also helped the Dow and S&P 500 enjoy their best close of 2016 on Friday. "There is definitely a positive bias given where the Dow finished and its flowing through to the leading stocks," said Craigs Investment Partners broker Bryon Burke.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 38 points to 5,204 by 0134 GMT. The benchmark rose 1.5 per cent last week and finally cleared stiff resistance around 5,180 after several attempts.

The next chart targets were 5,280, which marked a couple of peaks from November, and December's top at 5,331.

The index also made a bullish break of a downtrend channel that stretches all the way back to April 2015 when it was up at 5,980.

Gains were led by the telecoms and financials, while energy and resources benefited form higher oil and base metals prices.

The major banks extended their recent rally, putting the squeeze on a mob of short sellers who had been wagering on a sharp downturn in Australia's housing market which has so far failed to materialise.

Leading the pack was Westpac, which has surged almost 20 per cent in just 12 sessions to near a high from late December at A$33.74.

Travel operator Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd gained 2.8 per cent to a nine-month high, aided by news it was buying Netherlands-based travel agency Business Travel Development.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent or 52 points to a fresh all-time peak at 6,567.86.

The biggest gainers included Sky TV, up 2.6 per cent, and Orion Healthcare Group, up 1.6 per cent. Burke said investors are cheered by the fact that Orion has increased its penetration into the US.

In the other direction, Mainfreight MFT.NZ. shed 1.6 per cent.


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