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Australian shares firm on financials and healthcare stocks; NZ slips


[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed at a two-week high on Monday, underpinned by gains in financials and healthcare stocks, with investors keeping a close eye on earnings reports.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 per cent or 37.600 points to 5,941.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark slipped 0.1 per cent on Friday.

Financials accounted for most of the gains on the benchmark, with the country's "Big Four" banks firming between 0.4 and 0.8 per cent.

Healthcare stocks also added to the gains, with biotherapy firm CSL Ltd rising to a record closing high.

Household products distributor GWA Group Ltd was the top percentage gainer on the benchmark with its shares rising 11.4 per cent after it posted a 7 per cent rise in first-half profit.

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Shares of Infigen Energy rose 9.9 per cent to near four-week high. The company posted a 25 per cent jump in half-year net profit and entered into new financing facilities.

Property listings publisher Domain Holdings Australia Ltd climbed to its highest since Feb 8 after reporting a rise in revenue in its first months as a standalone company.

Energy stocks fell, capping the gains on the benchmark. Woodside Petroleum Ltd slumped to its lowest in more than four months on the first trading day after announcing an A$2.5 billion (S$2.6 billion) equity raising.

Myer Holdings Ltd shares fell to a record low after news the department store chain's top shareholder intends oust its board within weeks.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent or 10.060 points to finish the session at 8,115.250.

Utilities and consumer discretionary stocks led the fall, with Mercury NZ Ltd dipping 2 per cent, while Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd slipped 1.5 per cent.


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