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Australia shares ride Wall St gains on boost from financials, NZ down

[BENGALURU] Australian shares tracked Wall Street higher on Tuesday, led by gains for financials, as sentiment was boosted after hurricane Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm and caused less damage than initially feared.

Investors were also pondering sanctions imposed on North Korea by the United Nations Security Council over the country's sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept 3, though there was relief Pyongyang had not test-fired any missiles during the weekend to mark the founding of the reclusive state.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was cheered by strength on Wall Street, rising 0.8 per cent or 43.451 points to 5756.6 by 0233 GMT. The benchmark gained 0.7 per cent on Monday.

"The reason for the move is because of the strong lead we had from Wall Street overnight, where financials were amongst the best performers in America and that's all driven by the relief from hurricane Irma not being as bad as what everyone had been anticipating," said Christopher Conway, head of research at brokerage Australian Stock Report Financials led the gains on the benchmark, with the sectors index on track to close higher for a second consecutive day.

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The S&P/ASX 200 Financials gained as much as 1.6 per cent helped by the 'big four' banks and Macquarie Group Ltd, which climbed between 1.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent.

Macquarie, Australia's biggest investment bank, said on Monday that it expects first-half net profit to top year-ago result thanks to better performance fees.

Base metal prices rebounded on Monday and drove up material stocks with South32 Ltd gaining as much as 3.2 per cent to an all time high.

Spot iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange also rose, despite an overnight fall in Chinese iron ore futures to their weakest level in almost a month.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd gained as much as 2.1 per cent.

As investor appetite for risk showed signs of picking up, safe haven assets like gold extended losses and dragged on mining companies such as Newcrest Mining Ltd, down as much as 2.4 per cent, and Regis Resources Ltd off much as 5 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent, or 8.91 points, to 7842.84, snapping a four day winning streak.

Auckland International Airport Ltd fell 1.1 per cent while Sky Network Television lost as much as 2.9 per cent.