June 4, 2018 / 7:12 AM / 20 days ago

Australian shares end higher, healthcare stocks at record; NZ closed

* Healthcare index closes at record high

* CBA bolsters financials

* NZ closed for local holiday (Updates to close)

June 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Monday, led by gains in financial and materials stocks after the country’s biggest bank agreed to pay a record-high fine for money laundering breaches, while a rally in commodity prices drove up miners.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent or 35.100 points to 6025.500.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia finished the day 1.7 percent higher on relief that its A$700 million fine ($531 million) was not more punitive.

CBA shares were up 2 percent during the day in a slightly positive market. The fine was by far the biggest in Australian corporate history and almost double the A$375 million CBA had put aside.

The financial index held its gains through the day, rising as much as 1.4 percent before settling to close 0.6 percent up.

“The banking Royal Commission has put pressure on the whole sector so we’re seeing something of a relief rally today,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, referring to a quasi-judicial enquiry into financial misconduct.

An overnight rally in base metal prices drove the Australian mining index to close nearly 1 percent higher.

Global mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton gained 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

The Australian healthcare index extended gains from last Friday, closing 0.5 percent up at a record high.

Mayne Pharma Group Ltd came close to rising nearly 8 percent, its highest in 9 months and was the biggest gainer on the benchmark index. Pharma heavyweight CSL Ltd rose 1.5 percent to a record high while Cochlear Ltd rose 0.6 percent.

The New Zealand market was closed on Monday for a local holiday. (Reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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