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Australia shares see best day in 7 months; NZ slightly up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended higher on Tuesday after a long weekend, recording their biggest intra-day gain in seven months, helped by gains in financials and energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished up 1.7 per cent, or 95 points, at 5,772.8, its biggest intra-day percentage gain since November 2016.

The benchmark ended flat on Friday and lost nearly two per cent last week.

Financial markets in Australia were closed on Monday for a public holiday.

"Over the weekend, we saw infotech stocks coming for some profit-taking and it looks as though investors are looking elsewhere for value," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

"The attention seems to be turning to some of the big up sectors in the Australian market, particularly the financial and oil stocks."

Financial stocks were the biggest gainers on the main index with the 'Big Four' banks gaining in the range of 2.5 to 2.8 per cent.

The utilities and energy sectors were helped by higher oil prices.

Utility stocks Origin Energy and APA Group, both with significant natural gas interests, gained 2.1 per cent and three per cent, respectively.

Oil and gas majors, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search, added two per cent and 1.3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished marginally higher as gains in consumer cyclical shares and financials offset losses in technology and consumer staples stocks.

Air New Zealand and Westpac's NZ-listed shares were the best performers on the benchmark, up 3.5 per cent and 2.1 per cent respectively.