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Australia shares track Wall Street into positive territory; NZ gains

[BENGALURU] Australian shares returned to positive territory on Tuesday, drawing confidence from a recovery on Wall Street following a chaotic week for equities.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 per cent or 35.2 points to 5,855.9 at the close of trade, after a 0.3 per cent slip on Monday.

Wall Street's three major indices rebounded on Monday with broad-based gains after US equities' had biggest weekly drop in two years, but strategists are wary of calling an end to the rout.

In Australia, materials were the best performers, led by a 1.2 per cent rise in heavyweight BHP Billiton. Rival miner Rio Tinto gained 1.1 per cent to settle at a two-week best.

Copper prices climbed for a second day on a weaker dollar and a bounce-back in global equities, while China iron ore and steel futures crept higher ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year break.

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Top banks in the region posted limited gains amid a government-backed inquiry into Australia's finance sector that began on Monday.

The inquiry said it will start a year-long investigation by scrutinising the selling tactics for banks' most lucrative products - mortgages.

Investment bank Macquarie Group was among the top contributors to the index, up 1.1 per cent. Danish telecoms company TDC on Monday urged investors to back a US$6.7 billion cash offer from Macquarie and three Danish pension funds.

Healthcare major CSL Ltd rose 1.3 per cent.

Retail property manager Scentre Group capped the gains on the index with a 2.1 per cent drop, settling at its weakest since early October.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index broke a five-session run of losses, rising 0.8 per cent or 63.16 points to finish the session at 8,122.22.

Dairy and healthcare stocks boosted the index, with a2 Milk climbing 3.1 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd up 1.6 per cent.


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