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Australian shares end near three-week high; NZ high on a2 Milk

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed near a three-week high on Tuesday, led by gains in banks, while resources stocks advanced on higher commodities prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8 per cent or 47.40 points to 6,299.60 at the close of trade. The benchmark slipped 0.4 per cent on Monday.

Australia's "big four" banks led the way on Tuesday after announcements from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and National Australia Bank Ltd bolstered investors' appetite for financial stocks.

ANZ jumped 1.6 per cent to a nine-month high after reporting a 36 per cent fall in impaired assets in the third quarter due to stricter credit controls.

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Meanwhile, NAB rose 1.5 per cent to its highest since July 27 after investors took in stride a 3 per cent fall in third-quarter cash profit.

James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut, said the result was in line with market expectations and the provisions they had flagged were not as severe as the market had expected.

A recovery in gold prices, coupled with higher Chinese iron ore futures drove up the demand for materials stocks, pushing the metals and mining index 0.8 per cent higher.

Global miner BHP firmed 1.5 per cent, while Newcrest Mining Ltd rose 0.8 per cent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.30 per cent or 26.90 points to finish the session at 8,971.94.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 3.6 per cent to a more than four-week high, dominating the gains on the benchmark. 

REUTERS