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SYDNEY Dec 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.5 percent to three-week highs on Monday, underpinned by the financial sector though trading was subdued ahead of the Christmas holiday.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 26.7 points higher at 5,291.9. The benchmark climbed 1.2 percent on Friday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.9 percent to finish the session at 4,722.6. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)