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Australia shares scale 3 week high, financials, materials gain; NZ turn down

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose to a three-week high on Tuesday, lifted by financial and material sectors, as they benefited from Wall Street's strength 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 added 0.6 per cent, or 33.251 points, to 5746.4 for its best close since Aug 22. The benchmark index extended Monday's rise.

Among the gainers, Commonwealth Bank of Australia led the financial sector higher with a 2.2 per cent gain, while the remaining 'big four' banks gained between 0.8 per cent and 1.4 per cent.

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Macquarie Group, Australia's biggest investment bank, jumped 2.3 per cent after it said on Monday that it expects first-half net profit to top its year-ago result thanks to better performance fees.

Material stocks gained as financial markets responded positively to easing of Hurricane Irma that caused Aluminium led Chinese metals futures higher.

Steel and iron ore futures in China also advanced as demand remained intact in the world's top consumer.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto gained 1.2 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively.

South32 rose 3.9 per cent to end the session at a record high.

As investor appetite for risk showed signs of picking up, safe haven assets like gold hit their lowest in over a week on Tuesday and capped gains in related stocks.

Newcrest Mining lost 1.9 per cent while Regis Resources slumped 5 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent, or 11.34 points, to finish the session at 7840.41.

The industrial sector was the biggest drag on the index, with Auckland International Airport down 1.4 per cent and Air New Zealand off 0.7 per cent.

The energy sector fell as Z Energy dropped 1.7 per cent.