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Australia shares rise as miners, energy firms shine; NZ up slightly


[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Wednesday as rising oil and iron ore prices boosted the energy and material sector, with overall sentiment buoyed by a rally in global equities on the back of strong world growth.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.4 per cent or 22.879 points, to 5,986.4, with nine of the exchange's 10 sectors trading positively. The metals and mining sector jumped one per cent, with mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto advancing 1.4 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively.

Those gains were spurred in part by Chinese steel futures rising for a third straight session on Wednesday, supported by leaner supply and expectations that consumption in the world's top user would recover when production cuts are lifted after winter.

Oil prices rose as ongoing cuts of piped Canadian crude to the United States added to falling US crude inventories, while expectations of a prolonged Opec-led production cut also offered support.

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The energy sector was the best performer on the benchmark, with Origin Energy Ltd rising 2 per cent, hitting a near two-week high.

Elsewhere, biotherapeutics developer CSL Ltd added one per cent, capping a fourth straight session of gains.

On the negative ledger, three of the "Big four" banks fell between 0.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia bucking the falls to gain 0.6 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up 0.2 per cent or 16.51 points to finish the session at 8,104.990.

Gains in consumer staples slightly offset losses in healthcare stocks. Respiratory device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd remained a drag on the index for a second straight day, tumbling 4.9 per cent, as investors appeared to take profits after the company reported a 4 per cent rise in half-year earnings.

Dairy farm operator A2 Milk Company Ltd topped the gains on the index, jumping 5.2 per cent and extending gains to a second straight session following a robust earnings result for the four months to October.