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Australian shares end on high note but banks weigh, NZ at record again
[BENGALURU] Australian shares posted broad-based gains led by mining stocks on Wednesday but banks fell after the country's competition watchdog laid charges against top lender Australia and New Zealand Banking for alleged cartel behaviour.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.5 per cent higher or 30.2 points to 6,025.1. The benchmark closed 0.5 per cent lower on Tuesday.
Sentiment was helped by data showing Australia's economy grew at its fastest annual pace in almost two years, with 3.1 per cent growth in the March quarter.
Materials were the star performers with mining stocks rising 1.8 per cent, supported by strength in global iron ore and metal prices.
Bloomberg cited sources saying bids from a consortia of bidders valued BHP's shale unit at up to US$9 billion.
Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto each closed about two per cent and 2.5 per cent firmer.
Meawhile, biotherapeutics company CSL surged to a record close to provide the second biggest boost to the main board.
As of Tuesday's close, CSL's stock had added over 30 per cent to its value so far this year, in stark contrast with the main index which gave up over one per cent.
Energy stocks like Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy rose 2.8 per cent and 3.1 per cent, respectively, both benefitting from stronger oil prices.
However, bank stocks declined 0.8 per cent, as the market regulator said after the market's close on Tuesday that ANZ had been charged with cartel behaviour.
ANZ and National Australia Bank both saw their weakest close in well over a year while Westpac Banking closed at its lowest since 2013.
New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.6 per cent or 56.41 points to 8813.45 and closed at yet another record after having marked one in the previous session.
Healthcare stocks contributed most of the gains with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare extending gains to a fifth session and ending at a record.