Australia shares rise 0.7 pct led by banks, miners; New Zealand flat

(Updates to close)

June 28 (Reuters) – Australian shares had their biggest rise
in two weeks on Wednesday, led by financials after an insurance
company hit a record high and by materials stocks on higher
commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 percent or 41.51
points higher to finish the session at 5,755.70. The benchmark
fell 0.1 percent on Tuesday.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd, which ended 6.4
percent higher to a record close, pushed the banking sector up
and was the top gainer on the financials index.

Its shares hit a record intra-day high after the firm raised
its reported margin guidance range for full-year
2017.

Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of
Australia ended 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent higher,
respectively. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd
was up 1.1 percent and National Australia Bank Ltd
by 0.4 percent.

Gains in commodity prices lifted miners. The metals and
mining index ended 1.5 percent higher to reach its best
close in two weeks.

BlueScope Steel Ltd rose 2.7 percent while Sims
Metal Management Ltd ended 5.4 percent higher to its
highest close in more than five years.

Industrial stocks fell with Brambles Ltd shedding
1.7 percent while ALS Ltd closed 3.7 percent lower.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at
7,624.49.

The consumer discretionary sector weighed on the index with
Kathmandu Holdings Ltd falling 2.4 percent.

On the other hand, material stocks gained with Fletcher
Building Ltd closing 1 percent higher.
(Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by
Richard Borsuk)


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