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Australia: Shares push higher as miners extend rally; NZ breaches 8,000

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday, underpinned by strong gains in mining stocks, which hit a more than three-week high after copper prices registered their largest weekly gain since late August.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.7 per cent or 42.325 points to 5,753 points by 0105 GMT. The benchmark jumped more than 1 per cent on Friday.

Gains were broad-based with all ten sectors in the black.

Materials were the best performing sector with mining stocks rising more than 1 percent to touch their highest since Sept 14.

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Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange ended down 0.5 per cent at US$6,667 a tonne after peaking at US$6,724 on Friday, the highest since Sept 12, helped by expectations of strong demand from top consumer China.

"Gains in materials are driven out of broadly positive data out of China last week. Markets have got a positive view on materials in the shorter term," said Adam Tout, a senior analyst at CPS Capital in Perth.

Mining giants BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd were both trading more than 1 per cent firmer.

Markets showed little reaction to weak jobs data out of the U.S. and to the continuing tensions in the Korean peninsula after a report stated North Korea is preparing to test a long-range missile.

"The market is certainly defying the soft leads. There must be renewed buying interest," Tout added.

Mantra Group was the top gainer on the benchmark, soaring as much as 18 percent to clock its best intra-day percentage gain ever after the Australian hotelier said it had received a proposal from French hotel group Accor SA for a buyout price of A$1.18 billion (S$1.25 billion).

In other stocks, Telstra Corp jumped 1.5 per cent while gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd was up 1.4 per cent after prices of the yellow metal rebounded from a two-month low on Friday on concerns around North Korea.

At the other end, lithium miner Orocobre Ltd slipped 2.5 per cent while Healthscope Ltd was down 1.1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose as much as 0.5 per cent to scale a record high of 8,013.97 points.

Negotiations to determine the country's next government continued over the weekend with the populist New Zealand First Party starting talks with both the Labour and National parties on Sunday.

Consumer staples, materials and telecom stocks drove the gains on the index.

A2 Milk Company Ltd was among the top gainers, climbing as much as 3.2 per cent to an all-time high.

REUTERS