May 1, 2018 / 6:46 AM / 3 months ago

Australian shares rise as financials outperform; NZ flat

* Aussie shares firm on financials

* Australian financial index rises 1.4 percent on relief rally (Updates to close)

May 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a more than two-month high on Tuesday, supported by financials and real estate stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index firmed 0.5 percent or 32.5 points to 6015.2 at the close of trade. The benchmark added 0.5 percent on Monday.

Banks led the race, with the Australian financial index posting its biggest one-day gain in nearly eight-months.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.9 percent. The gains came even as the country’s banking regulator slugged the lender with an extra A$1 billion ($753 million) capital requirement as it released a scathing report into how the bank’s “complacent” governance allowed money-laundering to flourish.

Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report, said that the banks were experiencing a relief rally as the capital-boost order imposed on CBA wasn’t as bad expected.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd surged 2.4 percent, its biggest percentage gain in more than nine-months. The lender reported a 4 percent rise in its half-year cash earnings from continued operations, helped by a sharp fall in bad debt charges and expenses declining marginally.

BlueScope Steel Ltd, the country’s sole steel producer, traded 0.4 percent higher, while the wider metals and mining index gained 0.5 percent.

Bluescope said on Tuesday it was pleased with White House’s permanant exemptions for Australian steel and aluminium producers.

Real estate added to the gains, with Dexus climbing 2.2 percent to its highest in almost 15 weeks.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down 0.1 percent or 7.61 points to finish the session at 8,435.97.

Materials accounted for most of the losses, with the country’s biggest builder Fletcher Building Ltd falling 1.7 percent, after casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group said the construction of a convention centre being built by Fletcher faced new delays.

Shares of Skycity closed down 0.3 percent.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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