April 18, 2018 / 3:19 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares rise as miners rally; NZ inches up

* Aussie shares rise as materials support, banks under pressure

* NZ up 0.1 pct on dairy, industrial boost

By Chris Thomas

April 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday, fuelled by materials stocks and a confidence boost from upbeat Wall Street earnings, but pressure on financial stocks capped gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 percent or 14.6 points to 5,856.1 by 0220 GMT. The benchmark ended flat on Tuesday.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 gained 0.1 percent after robust earnings from Netflix, Goldman Sachs and healthcare companies fuelled optimism in what is expected to be the strongest earnings season in seven years.

Locally, shares of global miner Rio Tinto rose as much as 2.4 percent to their highest in seven weeks after Rio reported a rise in first-quarter iron ore shipments.

Rio rival BHP Billiton, due to report quarterly production on Thursday, was up as much as 0.9 percent.

Steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel rose 3.9 percent to a near six-week top.

Iron ore and steel prices in China rallied as market sentiment was boosted following a cut in bank reserve requirements on Tuesday, with the most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange up 2.5 percent at 0130 GMT.

Woodside Petroleum climbed 1.5 percent after it said increased output and higher liquefied natural gas prices drove up first-quarter revenue 30 percent.

Oil Search climbed 2.6 percent, while the energy index was up 1.4 percent.

Falls in the financial sector capped the gains on the index.

“The banks are down, and that’s curtailing the market performance, and that’s probably because the market is assuming that there is downside risk in the Aussie dollar and they are selling our banks and that’s probably holding the index down,” said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist, Blue Ocean Equities.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell as much as 0.8 percent, while others in the ‘Big Four’ slipped between 0.6-0.7 percent.

CBA said on Tuesday it plans to list its investment management business this year, at a time when lenders are being investigated by a powerful judicial inquiry and face scrutiny from authorities.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent or 10.86 points to 8,355.38 by 0220 GMT.

Auckland International Airport was the top boost to the index, rising 1.9 percent.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company rose as much as 1.2 percent.

Global dairy prices jumped at a fortnightly auction held early on Wednesday, breaking a run of four consecutive falls and pointing to increased global demand that could see further price rises. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Mensholong Lepcha Editing by Eric Meijer)

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