February 6, 2017 / 1:31 AM / 6 months ago

Australia shares gain on Wall Street cue; NZ shut

Feb 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Monday, taking their cue from stronger U.S. markets after President Donald Trump signed executive orders to review banking rules implemented after the 2008 global financial crisis.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 11.8 points or 0.21 percent to 5,633.4 by 0100 GMT.

Though Trump's order was short on specifics, the U.S. financial market embraced his signal that looser banking regulation was coming, pushing bank stocks higher.

"It's basically a bit of wind-back of the tightening of (banking) regulations since the Dodd Frank act. It doesn't necessarily sound prudent, but it's obviously positive for bank profitability, particularly in the U.S.," said Bill Keenan, general manager equities and researcher at Lonsec.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed by former President Barack Obama in 2010 as a response to the financial crisis.

The Act created new regulatory bodies and directed already-existing agencies to write hundreds of regulations aimed at creating stability in the financial markets.

"There's an expectation that some of the global banking regulations might also lighten because they don't want to put global banks at disadvantage to the U.S. banks," he added.

In Australia, financials made up three-fourths of the gains on the index, with all the 'Big Four' banks up.

National Australia Bank was the biggest gainer among the four, after it reported first-quarter cash earnings of A$1.6 billion, in line with expectations. Its cash profit fell 1 percent.

Gold stocks rose over 2 percent, after gold prices crawled higher on Monday on a weaker dollar.

Gold miner St Barbara rose 6.2 percent to its highest since Nov. 10, while Evolution Mining gained 3 percent.

Material stocks were the biggest drag on the index, with the metals index slipping 0.8 percent.

BHP Billiton led sector losses after workers at its Escondida mine prepared to re-enter dialogue with the company on Friday.

Unionised workers at the world's largest copper mine last week rejected the last company wage offer and voted for a work stoppage.

However, the union said late on Thursday night that the company had asked for mediation by Chile's Labor Directorate, which effectively extends negotiations and pushes back the start of a possible strike.

BHP Billiton fell as much as 2.02 percent for a third consecutive session, to its lowest in a month.

Virgin Australia Holdings slipped 4.9 percent after its budget unit, Tigerair Australia, said it would quit flying to Bali permanently following a spat with Indonesian authorities.

New Zealand markets are closed for a public holiday. On Friday, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.6 percent to 7,094.38.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena, Additional reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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