January 3, 2018 / 6:09 AM / a year ago

Australia shares end higher; NZ starts 2018 on strong note

(Updates to close)

Jan 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Wednesday, supported by gains in material stocks on the back of a rally in metal prices.

Investor sentiment was also boosted by broader Asian markets which hit a 10-year high as a feast of upbeat manufacturing surveys confirmed a synchronised upturn in the world economy was well under way.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.2 percent, or 9.1 points, to 6,070.4. It had closed slightly lower in the previous session.

The metals and mining index rose 1.7 percent to its highest close since February 2013, after zinc scaled a 10-year peak on Tuesday as the market focused on looming deficits due to declining supplies.

BHP Billiton advanced 1.7 percent to its highest close in 32 months, while fellow mining heavyweight Rio Tinto Ltd extended gains into an eleventh session to close at its highest since August 2011.

Oil prices hovered around their mid-2015 highs touched in the previous session, providing a boost to energy stocks.

Woodside Petroleum added a little over 1 percent and closed at a seven-month high, making it the top gainer on the energy index.

Sandfire Resources NL was the top gainer on the main stock index with a jump of 3.7 percent to a near five-year closing high.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.32 percent, or 26.83 points, to a record close of 8,424.91 on its first day of trade in 2018.

Materials, industrials and consumer staples led the gains. Fletcher Building Ltd gained nearly 2 percent, while Auckland International Airport rose 1.5 percent to its highest close in two weeks. (Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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