(Updates to close)
Jan 3 Australian shares closed at a 19-month
high in thin trade on Tuesday boosted by financials and miners,
which gained on rising base metal prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.2 percent, or 67.409
points, to 5,733.2, the highest close since June 1, 2015.
Trading volumes were 0.6 times the 30-day average.
The index closed 2016 up 7 percent, the best annual
performance since 2013, as gains in most commodity prices drove
up shares in mining firms.
On Tuesday, materials ended at their highest close
since March 2, 2015, lifted by mining heavyweights as copper
gained on expectations of strong demand from China and the
BHP Billiton Ltd rose 1.6 percent while its
spin-off South32 Ltd jumped 4 percent.
Fortescue Metals Group Ltd added 1.2 percent after
Chinese steel prices edged up on expectations of lower output
Financials gained 1.2 percent to end at their
highest in nearly 17 months, with the "Big Four" banks leading
the rally on the main index.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group,
Australia's third-largest bank by market cap, rose 1.7 percent
and was the biggest contributor to the benchmark's gains.
The bank said it would sell its stake in Shanghai Rural
Commercial Bank Co Ltd to China COSCO Shipping and
Shanghai Sino-Poland Enterprise Management Development for A$1.8
billion ($1.3 billion).
Energy stocks added 0.9 percent as oil prices rose
on hopes OPEC and non-OPEC production cuts would ease the global
Gold miners shed 0.1 percent despite gains in gold
prices in the face of a strong dollar.
New Zealand's share market was closed for a public holiday
and will reopen on Wednesday.
($1 = 1.3839 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Geo Tharappel in Bengaluru; Editing by Randy