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Australian shares lifted by financials; reopened NZ closes at record high

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose again on Wednesday, supported by financial stocks, while New Zealand's benchmark index had its biggest gain in seven months and ended at a record high the day after system glitches halted trading.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8 per cent to 6,352.2 at the close. The benchmark added 0.6 per cent on Tuesday.

The financial sector surged 1.8 per cent on Wednesday, with the so-called "Big Four" banks propelling smaller peers, following optimism global trade tensions could ease.

Westpac Banking Corp, Australia and New Zealand Banking and Commonwealth Bank of Australia climbed between 2.1 per cent to 2.7 per cent. National Australia Bank advanced 1.8 per cent.

"The financial sector has felt the most pressure over the last four weeks or so, particularly when the market has been weak. Now ironically, that puts them back in a position where some might consider them good value," said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

Gold prices recovered slightly after Tuesday's sharp fall, but not enough to pull investors back into gold stocks. Signs of recovery in the US dollar adds to woes for the precious metal.

Among the sector's top losers were Resolute Mining, down 4.2 per cent, and St Barbara, which dropped 2.9 per cent.

Boral Ltd jumped over 10 per cent after the building-products maker reported a higher annual profit and forecast a 20 per cent or more rise in core earnings from its North American division in fiscal 2019.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed at a record high of 9,362.67 after climbing 1.6 per cent, the biggest one-day advance since Jan 31. Investors made up for a day largely without trading on Thursday, due to a series of glitches.

Index heavyweights a2 Milk Company and Fletcher Building were the biggest boosts, closing 4.4 per cent and 3.5 per cent higher, respectively.

Synlait Milk, in which a2 Milk holds a nearly 18 per cent stake, was the biggest gainer, up 5.2 per cent.


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