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Australia shares near 6-month peak; New Zealand ends at record high

[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed near six-month peaks on Monday, tracking a strong lead from Wall Street and as energy stocks benefited from rising oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.27 per cent or 15.94 points at 5,919.1.

The benchmark fell 0.2 per cent on Friday after the High Court ruled that Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce was ineligible to remain in Parliament, a decision that cost the government its one-seat parliamentary majority and forced a by-election.

Oil markets were supported by expectations that an Opec-led production cut due to expire next March would be extended, while Wall Street rose on Friday as tech stocks gained.

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The Australian energy index closed up 1.4 per cent at its highest in more than two years, with oil and gas suppliers Santos Ltd and Beach Energy Ltd leading gains.

Financials were also among the top gainers as investors looked beyond the outcomes of a regulatory investigation into the rigging of the bank bill swap reference rate (BBSW).

Westpac Banking Corp said it plans to defend itself in a lawsuit brought by the nation's corporate regulator accusing it of rigging a key interest rate - unlike two rivals who have agreed to settle similar cases.

The stock ended 0.6 per cent higher, and was among the top contributors to a 0.3 per cent rise in the Australian financial index.

Industrials and healthcare stocks also ticked up.

In New Zealand, the benchmark index closed at a record high on broad-based gains, with consumer staples and telecom stocks leading the charge.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7 per cent or 58.99 points to finish at 8,143.98.

Milk supplier a2 Milk Co Ltd jumped 1.7 per cent to a record high, while telecom services provider Spark New Zealand Ltd advanced about one per cent.