October 2, 2017 / 6:12 AM / 9 months ago

Australia shares buoyed by upbeat China data; NZ edges down

(Updates to close)

Oct 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed on a firm note on Monday, as upbeat factory data from China over the weekend boosted sentiment and drove shares higher.

The S&P/ASX 200 index perked up 0.8 percent, or 47.69 points, to 5,729.30 at the close of trade. Sydney was closed on Monday for a public holiday.

Data on Saturday showed that China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, saw manufacturing activity growing at the fastest pace since 2012 in September as factories cranked up output to take advantage of strong demand and high prices, easing worries of a slowdown.

Financial and material stocks were among the best performers on the index with the financials index closing 1.1 percent up, its highest in nearly six weeks while the Australian metals and mining index closed 1.8 percent higher.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp were the biggest boost on the index, gaining 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.

The Australian energy index ended the session 0.7 percent up. Oil and gas explorer Beach Energy was the biggest percentage gainer on the index, closing 12.1 percent higher in its first trading session after acquiring assets from Origin Energy for $1.25 billion last week.

Meanwhile, New Zealand shares ended slightly lower on Monday after the New Zealand First Party, which won the September election said in a media release it will begin preliminary talks with both the ruling National Party and separately with the Labour Party this week.

“The longer the coalition talks go on, we won’t have a government as such and investors won’t know the future direction,” said Grant Williamson, investment adviser at Christchurch-based Hamilton Hindin Greene.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.019 percent, or 1.51 points to finish the session at 7,928.89.

Consumer stocks A2 Milk and Sanford Ltd were the biggest percentage gainers on the index, closing the day 3.7 percent and 2.6 percent up respectively.

Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Susan Mathew

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