June 19, 2017 / 7:15 AM / 2 years ago

Australia shares end higher; New Zealand hits record closing high

(Updates to close)

June 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Monday, which much of the gains supplied by financials stocks sought for attractive dividend yields.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.5 percent or 31.17 points to 5,805.20.

The desire for high dividend yields - which are a feature of Australian banking stocks - was a driving factor in financial sector buying on Monday, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The financials index, which have risen four out of the past five sessions, climbed 1.1 percent. The “Big Four” banks finished between 0.9 and 1.5 percent higher.

The positive market sentiment was also supported by Australian data showing May new vehicle sales rose by the most in 11 months to hit the highest on record.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.5 percent or 39.28 points higher to finish at 7,592.03, a record closing high.

Gains in consumer staples helped push the index up for a fifth straight day.

a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 5.7 percent to a record closing high. The firm raised its full-year group revenue forecast on Friday. (Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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