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Australia shares rebound a little as financials, miners gain; NZ higher

[BENGALURU] Australia's shares rose slightly on Tuesday, as gains in mining and financial stocks offset losses elsewhere, in low trading volumes as markets in the United States, Britain and China were closed for holidays.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.16 per cent to 5,716.30 at 0356 GMT. On Monday, the benchmark dropped 0.8 per cent.

Housing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday showed April building approvals rose 4.4 per cent from the prior month but declined 17.2 per cent from a year earlier.

The data comes on the back of regulators' attempts to cool an overheated housing market by imposing limits on mortgage lending by big banks, denting their outlook.

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Concerns were heightened after the Australian government in early May said it was placing a levy on deposits for the big banks.

The financial index, which on Monday saw its biggest loss since December, rose 0.4 per cent, helped by the monthly improvement in housing starts. The five biggest banks had gains of between 0.2 per cent to one per cent.

Miners recovered from a rout on Monday after tensions over potential iron-ore tax on mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP by the Western Australia state government eased.

Rio Tinto and BHP shares were up one per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, while iron-ore miner Fortescue added 1.6 per cent.

Energy stocks fell despite a moderate recovery in oil prices, as investors sought more clarity on the direction of OPEC-led production curbs.

Other sectors remained subdued. "Tonight we'll see the US and UK markets reopen, so I think people are taking profit just in case things go the wrong way," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

Investors will also glean Chinese factory activity data for May, due on Wednesday, which is expected to show the slowest pace of growth pace in eight months.

China is Australia's biggest trading partner.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.1 per cent, or 8.80 points, higher at 7421.58.

Gains were concentrated in financials and consumer stocks, the previous session's biggest losers.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk was the benchmark's biggest gainer, up 1.5 per cent.