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Australia shares upbeat as bank stocks gain, NZ market perks up


[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Tuesday with financials back in the spotlight, and buoyant commodity prices lifting materials shares.

The SS&P/ASX 200 index rose 40.41 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 5,761 at 0301 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 per cent on Monday, but was slightly down in July and posted its third consecutive monthly fall.

The biggest boost for the bourse was Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which bounced back to rise 0.9 per cent after two days of losses.

"We've seen a bit of reflation coming back into the financial markets, yield curves have started to move up and people are staring to wade back into global financials again," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets.

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"So its more of a global thematic that we are using as a vehicle rather than specifically people thinking banks are great buying at these levels," he said.

Material stocks were on a tear, spearheaded by index heavyweight BHP Billiton which rose to levels unseen in five months.

Robust oil prices, supported by strong fuel demand, and a jump in iron ore prices boosted sentiment.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining gained as much as 1.5 per cent as spot gold prices traded just shy of seven-week highs.

Elsewhere, markets were looking ahead to the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy review due shortly. THE RBA is expected to keep its cash rate at a record-low 1.5 per cent, according to economists polled by Reuters.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 16.94 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 0301 GMT to 7,710.93. It rose 1.1 per cent in July, marking its seventh straight monthly gain.

Telecom and Healthcare stocks lifted the benchmark the most, with Spark New Zealand and Metlifecare among top gainers.