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Australia shares lifted by financial and material stocks; NZ down


[BENGALURU] Aussie shares edged up on Tuesday, helped by financial stocks and by resources shares, which were buoyed by a further jump in Chinese steel futures prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent or 17.829 points to 5,963.500. The benchmark fell 0.2 per cent on Monday.

The Australian financial index rose 0.2 per cent with Macquarie Group leading the gains, rising 1.06 per cent. Australia's second-largest lender Westpac Banking Corp rose 0.3 per cent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia released minutes of its November meeting which showed policymakers warned of "considerable uncertainty" about how quickly wages growth and inflation might pick up, thereby leaving the interest rates at record lows for more than a year.

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The metals and mining index rose 0.3 per cent, with 0.4 per cent gains for both BHP and Rio Tinto Ltd.

Chinese iron ore futures continued rising on Tuesday, gaining 1.3 per cent, despite stockpiles of the steelmaking commodity continuing to rise in China.

BHP shares were also helped after it and Vale SA announced a 150-day extension authorised by a Brazilian court to negotiate a settlement of a $48 billion claim stemming from the Samarco mine disaster in 2015.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.02 per cent or 10.32 points to 8,088.48.

Healthcare stocks weighed as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare plunged 4.5 per cent, dragging the index to its first loss in three sessions, despite posting a 4 per cent and 8 per cent rise in half-year profit and revenue, respectively.

But consumer staples offset some of the losses as dairy farm operator A2 Milk jumped 5.4 per cent to a more than 2-1/2 week high after it reported a 137.7 per cent rise in its net profit after tax in the four months to October.

Rival Fonterra Co-Operative Group Ltd rose 0.5 per cent after it said its milk production in New Zealand rose 3 per cent during the peak production month of October due to the return of favourable weather after a wet spring.