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Financials

Miners help Australian shares notch record closing highs

* BHP, Rio Tinto hit record highs on strong iron ore prices

* Crown jumps after buyout proposal from Star Entertainment

* Retail sales increase 1.3% in March vs 1.4% consensus (Updates to close)

May 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose to record closing highs on Monday, led by a rally in miners on strong commodity prices while disappointing U.S. jobs data eased some concerns about an earlier-than-expected interest rate hike and aided equities globally.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 1.3% to 7,172.8, rising to pre-pandemic levels, with index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto scaling record highs on strong iron ore prices.

Miners climbed more than 3.8% to hit their highest since May 2008, with BHP rising 3.1%, Rio Tinto adding over 4% and Fortescue closing about 7% higher.

Broader Asian markets also rallied as data on Friday showed U.S. job growth unexpectedly slowed in April, alleviating some concerns about rising inflation and potentially higher U.S. interest rates.

Further aiding sentiment, a survey showed Australian business conditions surged to all-time highs in April as firms reported sharply increased sales, profits and employment, a sign the economy was coping well with the end of a government support programme for jobs.

Australian casino operator Crown Resorts jumped more than 7%, after receiving a buyout proposal valued at A$9 billion from rival Star Entertainment Group.

Star’s shares closed 7.7% higher, marking their best day in a year.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.5% lower at 12,659.01, extending losses into the fourth session. (Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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