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Jan 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Wednesday, driven by a strong rally in basic material stocks on the back of rising iron ore and base metal prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.19 percent higher, or 10.798 points, at 5,771.5.
The rally in commodity stocks was fuelled by a rise in iron ore prices as steel and iron ore futures in China advanced for a third session on Wednesday. Base metals were also up with copper and zinc gaining.
The metals and mining index extended gains into a second straight session, rising 2.7 percent with Rio Tinto adding 3.9 percent and Fortescue Metals climbing 4.5 percent.
Gains by miner BHP Billiton, which has significant oil interests, of 2.6 percent were also aided by higher oil prices.
Gold Miners Newcrest Mining and Resolute Mining rose 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, as gold held near six-week highs.
Whitehaven Coal closed 2.6 percent up. Data released on Tuesday showed coal exports from Australian state Queensland, one of the world’s biggest suppliers to China, hit record levels for the third year in a row in 2016.
Consumer stocks also gained with Woolworths rising 0.8 percent and Treasury Wine Estates adding nearly 2 percent.
Financial stocks, however, fell with three of the ‘Big Four’ losing in the range of 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.2 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index hit its highest close since Oct. 14, 2016 up 0.46 percent, or 32.01 points, to 7,069.59.
Gains were led by a2 Milk Company soaring to a near one-month high at 7 percent.
Following suit were Spark New Zealand and Genesis Energy gaining 1.8 and 1.7 percent, respectively.
Auckland International Airport also added 1.2 percent.
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong