January 5, 2017 / 6:18 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares end higher for third consecutive session; NZ flat

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(Updates to close)

Jan 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher in thin trade on Thursday mirroring gains on Wall Street, pushed up by financials and basic materials stocks gaining on higher base metal prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.3 percent, or 16.89 points higher, to 5753.3. Trading volumes were 0.7 times the 30-day average.

U.S. shares ended higher on Wednesday despite Federal Reserve's December meeting showing concerns that quicker economic growth under President-elect Donald Trump could require faster interest rate increases to ward off inflation.

The basic materials index gained 0.42 percent, its highest since Sept. 2, 2014, powered by an overnight surge in copper price on a brightening demand outlook for Chinese metals.

Copper miners Oz Minerals Ltd and Sandfire Resources NL gained 3.42 percent and 3.61 percent respectively.

Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd rose 0.1 percent, tracking three consecutive session of gains, while peer Rio Tinto Ltd gained 0.2 percent.

The gold index closed 2.5 percent higher on the back of rising gold prices, with Newcrest Mining Ltd gaining 1.8 percent.

The financial index gained 0.45 percent to end at its highest in over 17 months, with the "Big Four" banks leading the rally.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd followed suite by ending at its highest in 17 months up 0.4 percent, while National Australia Bank Ltd gained 0.9 percent.

Engineering and construction giant WorleyParsons Ltd rose 2.4 percent after announcing renewal of a general engineering services contract with Saudi Aramco.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat as losses in industrials and consumer cyclicals were offset by gains in telecom services and utilities.

Auckland International Airport Ltd ended 1.1 percent lower, while Spark New Zealand Ltd gained 2.9 percent, its highest in nearly a month.

Reporting by Sandhya Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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