April 5, 2018 / 6:54 AM / 17 days ago

Financials take Australia shares higher; NZ down

* Aussie shares end higher for a second day

* NZ snaps two days of gains (Updates to close)

By Susan Mathew

April 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday, with bank stocks leading gains on a positive turn in global sentiment as fears of an all-out trade war between the world’s two largest economies abated.

Investors were more optimistic the U.S.-China trade spat would simmer down after the United States expressed willingness to negotiate a resolution following China’s counterpunch to slap tariffs on U.S. imports.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.5 percent, or 27.4 points, higher at 5,788.8. The benchmark had closed up 0.2 percent on Wednesday.

The ‘Big Four’ banks were the biggest boost on the benchmark and ended up more than 1 percent each, followed by healthcare stock CSL Ltd adding 0.9 percent.

Consumer stock Treasury Wine Estates was up 1.8 percent, while conglomerate Wesfarmers climbed 0.8 percent.

On the other hand, iron ore and steel miners corked gains as BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Bluescope Steel fell between 0.7 percent and 3.2 percent. Iron ore and steel on the Dalian commodities exchange were lower on Wednesday before closing for a two-day holiday.

Shares of MG Unit Trust, the funding vehicle of Murray Goulburn dairy co-operative, ended 0.5 percent lower after Murray’s shareholders voted in favour of the $1 billion takeover by Canadian cheesemaker Saputo Inc.

The deal, which is pending foreign investment board approval, would make Saputo the biggest diary processor in Australia, rivalling New Zealand’s Fonterra . Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund finished the session 3.2 percent lower.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4 percent, or 34.09 points, to 8,363.99 after having logged two straight days of gains.

Spark New Zealand weighed on the index the most, while Sky Network Television was the worst performer on the index, down 2.1 percent. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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