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Australian shares track Wall Streets gains, but miners falter; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Wednesday, adding to gains from the previous session, as upbeat Wall Street earnings buoyed investor sentiment, with financial stocks the biggest drivers.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1.2 per cent higher, its biggest one day gain since June, at 5,939.1. The benchmark added 0.6 per cent on Tuesday.

US stocks had jumped more than 2 per cent overnight following upbeat earnings reports from major companies including UnitedHealth and Goldman Sachs.

In Australia, financial stocks climbed 1.4 per cent, supported by the country's banks, which were comfortably in positive territory.

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National Australia Bank, the country's number four lender, on Tuesday joined its three major peers in refunding customers it had overcharged, to the tune of A$314 million (S$308 million). All of the "big four" banks will report earnings in coming weeks.

The country's biggest banks have been in damage control mode after a powerful inquiry into the sector uncovered widespread misconduct.

Defying the rally, mining stocks largely traded lower as global miner BHP cut its fiscal 2019 guidance for copper production, citing outages at key mines.

BHP fell 0.7 per cent, but its losses were capped as the miner also reported an 8 per cent increase in first quarter iron ore production on strong Chinese demand, suggesting the trade tussle with the United States has not dampened demand by the world's second largest economy and Australia's largest export partner.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.2 per cent or 108.34 points to close at 8,911.79, marking only its second session of gains in 13.

Index heavyweight a2 Milk Company surged 9.2 per cent to its highest in more than one week, as it affirmed that its first quarter revenue guidance is in line with expectations, and anticipates further growth in China an Australia and New Zealand. Global diary prices, meanwhile, fell for the fifth time in a row at an auction, as supply remained robust.

REUTERS