(Updates to close)
Dec 20 Australian shares reached their highest
close in more than 16 months on Tuesday, with banking and
consumer stocks taking the spotlight.
Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's last policy
meeting showed that it expressed cautious optimism about the
country's economic prospects, while showing some concerns over
low wage growth.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.52 percent or 29.02
points higher at 5591.1, its highest closing level since Aug. 6,
The "Big Four" banks ended in positive territory with
National Australia Bank Ltd and Commonwealth Bank of
Australia each adding slightly more than 1 percent.
Retail giant Wesfarmers Ltd rose for a third
straight day ,closing 1.1 percent up, while Woolworths
ended 1.8 percent higher.
Iron ore miners and steelmakers fell as Chinese steel and
iron ore futures extended their losing streak into a fifth day.
The benchmark metal index declined as much as
0.7 pct to its lowest in a month.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index shed early
gains and closed steady, inching up 3.42 points to 6789.67.
Shares of Westpac Banking Corp finished 0.98
percent higher while Australia and New Zealand Bank
rose a fifth straight day, adding 0.89 percent.
(Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by