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Australia shares rise on financials; NZ closed

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday led largely by financial stocks as the country's biggest bank settled money laundering complaints brought against it by the financial intelligence agency.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 per cent or 37.90 points to 6,028.300 by 0307 GMT. The benchmark lost 0.4 per cent on Friday.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia was the biggest gainer, rising as much as 2.4 per cent after it agreed to pay a fine of A$700 million (S$709 million) for money-laundering and terror finance breaches.

"It appears that investors are pleased that the AUSTRAC matter has been dealt with, so there is some relief in trading today," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The financial index rose as much as 1.4 per cent to its highest in nearly a week.

"It's not just the AUSTRAC issue, the banking royal commission has put pressure on the whole sector so we're seeing something of a relief rally today," Mr McCarthy added.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd rose 1.2 per cent to its highest since May 31 and National Australia Bank Ltd rose as much as 1.5 per cent.

Australian shares of British lender CYBG Plc gained over 6 per cent to post its biggest intraday per centage gain in nearly four weeks.

The British lender said on Sunday it had raised its offer to buy challenger bank Virgin Money by 7 per cent in the exchange ratio through an all-share combination.

Material stocks on Monday also rose, due to a rally in base metals on Friday night.

Global miners Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.9 per cent, BHP Billiton rose as much as 1.2 per cent to its highest in over ten days, while Fortescue Metals gained as much as 1.3 per cent to its highest since May 14.

Real estate and healthcare stocks inched up, led higher by Scentre Group and CSL Ltd.

Shopping mall giant Scentre Group posted its biggest intraday per centage gain since Feb 21.

Biotherapeutics company, CSL Ltd, the country's fifth biggest company by market value was at a record high, rising up as much as 1.5 per cent.

The New Zealand market was closed on Monday for a local holiday.

REUTERS

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