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Materials buoy Australian shares as BHP hits highest since August 2014; NZ at record

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Monday, carried higher by BHP hitting its highest since August 2014 and giving the index a valuable boost.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent, or 19 points to 6,135.3 at the close of trade. The benchmark closed marginally lower on Friday.

BHP Shares rose nearly 2 per cent, hitting their highest in about 45 months.

A rally among miners also saw Rio Tinto rising 0.7 per cent and Fortescue Metals rising more than 1 per cent to hit its highest since end-February as iron ore gained on a strong demand outlook.

Three of the "Big Four" banks ended between 0.3 and 1.5 per cent higher, while ANZ slipped 1.9 per cent when it went ex-dividend.

Hospital operator Healthscope Ltd closed 4.5 per cent higher after Canadian investor Brookfield Asset Management made a US$3.3 billion offer for the company, trumping a local offer of US$3.1 billion in April.

"Given that the it is one of the few stocks in that sector that trades at a low multiple, it is not surprising to see an interest in it, and I would say its unlikely that this will be the last improved bid we'll see," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Share of wealth manager AMP Ltd closed 3 per cent higher, shrugging off news rating agency Moody's Investors Service said on Monday that governance failures at AMP revealed by a quasi-judicial inquiry into the financial sector had added downward pressure to its rating.

Meanwhile, shares of telco Telstra were the biggest drag on the index, down 5 per cent, after it said it expects fiscal 2018 earnings at bottom end of guidance. It noted there would be ongoing pressure on mobile and fixed average revenue per user, as well as increased competition brought on by the National Broadband Network.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent, or 36.54 points to finish the session at record close of 8,713.23 in its ninth straight session of gains.

A2 milk, up 2.6 per cent, was the biggest boost while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare gained 1 per cent.

REUTERS

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