February 2, 2018 / 1:46 AM / 18 days ago

Australia shares rise on energy and materials ; NZ up

* Energy & materials stocks gain most on stronger commodities and oil prices

* NZ shares rise slightly on materials and industrials

By Aditya Soni

Feb 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares ticked up on Friday as energy and materials stocks firmed on higher oil and iron ore prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 percent or 20.80 points to 6,110.90 by 0113 GMT. The benchmark added 0.9 percent on Thursday and was on track to gain 1 percent for the week.

Energy stocks gained the most on Friday, with the energy index climbing to its highest in more than two weeks. Oil rose on Thursday after a survey showed OPEC’s commitment to its supply cuts remains in effect, even as U.S. production boomed.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 1.6 percent, while rival Santos Ltd reached its highest more than a week.

Materials stocks gained on strengthening iron ore prices which were up 1.6 percent.

Commodity prices were helped by a weakening in the U.S. dollar , which was on track for a weekly fall as investors focused on renewed economic strength in the eurozone.

BHP, Australia’s biggest company by market cap, rose 0.6 percent, pushing the index up, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd climbed 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of James Hardie Industries PLC, rose 5.6 percent to a record high and were among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark.

James Hardie, the world’s No. 1 maker of fibre cement building panels, posted a 32.9 percent rise in third-quarter adjusted net operating profit on Friday.

Financials rose as well, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia firming to a near 2-1/2 week high, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd hit its highest in more than 10 weeks.

Conversely, real estate stocks and industrials fell, capping the gains on the index.

“The ongoing sell-off in global bond markets is affecting their (real estate and industrials stocks) performance,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

“Property stocks are sensitive to interest rate changes, the continuing sell-off and increase in long-term interest rates is really weighing on the real estate and utilities sector as well.”

The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries reached a high of 2.797 percent early on Friday, probing its highest levels since April 2014.

Property company Goodman Group Pty Ltd fell 1.7 percent, while Transurban Group declined 1.5 percent and was the biggest drag on the index.

On the other hand, New Zealand shares ticked up, helped by a rise in materials and industrials. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent or 5.39 points to 8,389.260, on track to add 1 percent on a weekly basis.

Fletcher Building Ltd, the country’s biggest construction company, firmed 1.3 percent to a 15-week high, while Air New Zealand Ltd climbed 2 percent. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chandini Monnappa; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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