July 9, 2018 / 2:09 AM / 4 months ago

Australian shares rise to 10-1/2 yr high on materials rally; NZ falls

* Aussie shares rise to 10-1/2 yr high

* Materials biggest boost on the benchmark

* NZ falls on dip in health care stocks

By Aditya Soni

July 9 (Reuters) - Australian shares jumped to a 10-1/2 year high on Monday, following a firmer finish on Wall Street, with materials stocks driving gains on higher copper prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index jumped 0.2 percent or 14.60 points to 6,286.90 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark added 0.9 percent on Friday and was on track for its third session of consecutive gains.

U.S. stocks climbed on Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting their highest levels in two weeks, as strong U.S. jobs growth blunted the impact of an escalating U.S.-China trade dispute.

Materials stocks, especially miners, underpinned the bullish trend on Monday, with the metals and mining index climbing 1 percent.

A strong rebound in copper on the London Metal Exchange helped to drive strong gains in the sector.

Global miner BHP jumped 1.8 percent to its highest since July 2 and was the biggest boost to the benchmark, while its rival Rio Tinto Ltd strengthened 1.4 percent.

Banks also advanced, lending support to the rally on the main index.

“A certain amount of that is because of the way Australian superfunds work...they (financials) have such a heavy weighting despite the bad news, people still put money to work across the index,” said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia bounced 0.9 percent to a near four-month high, while National Australia Bank Ltd rose 0.8 percent to two-month high.

Real estate stocks, traditionally seen as bond proxies, also accumulated gains, with property managers such as GPT Group climbing as much as 2.3 percent to a more than six-month high, while Mirvac Group traded 1.4 percent higher after a fall in U.S. treasury yields.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped about 0.3 percent or 29.72 points to 9,054.32

Health care stocks led the losses, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd dipping 1.3 percent, while Ryman Healthcare Ltd dropped 0.9 percent.

Bucking the trend, Spark New Zealand Ltd firmed 0.5 percent. Telecommunications and digital services provider said on Monday it was notified by New Zealand’s competition regulator of its intention to file court proceedings regarding three separate historical operational and billing issues. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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