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Australia shares rise on gains by materials, financials; NZ higher

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose after two straight sessions of losses on Tuesday, as materials and financials led broad-based gains on the back of a solid Wall Street performance.

Adding to the better sentiment was stronger US services sector data, which helped US stocks up and provided further evidence of strength in the domestic economy.

The Australian main index was 0.7 per cent, or 39 points, higher at 5,439.3 by 0107 GMT.

The benchmark closed down 0.8 per cent lower in the previous session, hurt by the political crisis in Italy, although global markets steadied overnight as fears of an imminent election ebbed.

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Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said he would resign after suffering a resounding defeat in a referendum over constitutional reform, leaving the euro zone's third-largest economy in political limbo.

Investors, however, will be watchful of Reserve Bank of Australia's monthly policiy meeting later in the day, where the central bank is expected to stand pat on its record low cash rate.

Rising commodity prices on a weaker US dollar drove up major miners buoyant, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto , and Fortescue Metals Group each over 2 per cent higher.

BHP Billiton, which also has significant oil interests, got a lift from winning a bid to partner with Mexican state oil company Pemex in a joint venture to develop a potentially lucrative deep water field in the country's untapped Gulf waters.

Energy shares were beneficiaries of overnight gains in oil, with the energy index adding 1.5 per cent.

Australia's top power and gas retailer Origin Energy earlier announced plans to spin off its interests in conventional oil and gas fields in an initial public offering expected to be worth at least A$1 billion (S$1.1 billion)..

Australian financial stocks, which have tracked the gains of their US peers ever since the election of Donald Trump as US President, were 1 per cent higher in tune with the 'Big 4' banks.

"You've got great yield in the banks, you've got very stable earnings," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets.

"We still have very low volatitity in financial stocks, which is great for income trade." New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.4 per cent, or 28 points, at 6,882.84.

Financials, which occupy over 70 per cent of the index by market value, led the gains as Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and NZX Ltd added 1.4 per cent and per cent respectively.

Consumer staple stock A2 Milk was up 2.6 per cent, while a 2.8 per cent gain in Ryman Healthcare sent up the healthcare sector.