July 24, 2018 / 7:01 AM / 24 days ago

Australian shares gain as commodity prices support materials; NZ edges up

(Updates to close)

By Nikhil Nainan

July 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday as firmer commodity prices re-invigorated material stocks, while financial stocks tracked their Wall Street peers.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent, or 38.2 points to 6,265.8 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.9 percent on Monday.

A rise in commodity prices helped the metals and mining index rise 1.4 percent, with BHP leading the gains.

BHP rose 1.7 percent as investors brushed off news on Monday that the global miner had been served with a class action lawsuit over the 2015 Samarco dam failure in Brazil.

London copper prices were buoyed by news that labour negotiations at Chile’s Escondida mine, the world’s biggest copper mine and run by BHP, were deadlocked with no sign of progress.

Australian financials were the second-biggest boost to the ASX 200, with the sector index up 0.4 percent, as investors took comfort from the low likelihood of the Reserve Bank of Australia raising its rates - unlike many other central banks which are seen on a tightening path.

Speculation that the Bank of Japan is debating measures to scale back its massive monetary stimulus has roiled bond markets and lifted long-term borrowing costs globally, helping to support U.S. financials overnight.

“The cheapest sector and the biggest sector is the financials so we are seeing buying into that,” Mathan Somasundaram, a Blue Ocean Equities market portfolio strategist.

Investment bank Macquarie Group rose 1.3 percent, while among the ‘Big Four’ banks, ANZ inched higher.

A surge in Australian wine exports to China helped Treasury Wine Estates jump 5.5 percent, at a time when frayed relations between the two countries have led to customs delays for Australian wine.

A late surge from Fletcher Building and a2 Milk Company pushed New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index up 0.3 percent, to 8,901.32.

a2 Milk closed 1.4 percent higher, snapping a run of heavy losses, while Fletcher rose 2.3 percent. (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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