(Updates to close)
April 10 Australian shares closed near a
two-year high on Monday, as energy and material stocks found
support from higher global oil prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended the session 0.9 percent,
or 50.43 points, higher at 5,912.9.
The market edged higher on the back of oil producers and
energy-related companies, with the benchmark energy index
rising to its highest in 19 months.
Oil majors Woodside Petroleum Ltd closed 0.7
percent higher, while Oil Search Ltd gained 0.9
Shares of BHP Billiton Ltd, which has significant
exposure to the oil sector, closed 4.6 percent higher.
The sector found support from global oil prices,
which rose on Monday because of strong demand and uncertainty
over the conflict in Syria, following the U.S. missile attack on
a Syrian airbase last week.
Although Syria is not a major oil producer, any escalation
of the conflict feeds fears about oil supplies due to the
country's location and alliances with big oil producers in the
Financials, the biggest index constituent, finished up 0.8
percent, with the 'Big Four' banks ending in positive territory
ahead of earnings season.
"People now would be a bit wary of selling the banks too
much, as we are anticipating that there will be some pretty good
results," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished
the session flat at 7,238.86 points. Utility stocks were a drag
on the index, capping gains in financial and consumer staples.
Shares of power generation company Meridian Energy Ltd
closed 1.9 percent lower, while honey producer Comvita
Ltd ended up 2.3 percent.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Additional
reporting by Ambar Warrick; Editing by Randy Fabi)