April 3, 2017 / 7:05 AM / 10 months ago

Australia shares inch up; New Zealand rises too

(Updates to close)

April 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged up on Monday, as losses in raw material stocks were offset by gains for financials and real estate firms.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 percent, or 7.8 points to 5,872.7 at the close of trade. The benchmark shed 0.5 percent on Friday.

“Financials have had a good run, driving the market,” said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer at IG Markets. “Banks are focusing on their loan books and investor lending, and are looking at leverage in the property market.”

Australian home prices hit record highs as building approvals jumped the most in seven months.

The Big Four banks all closed marginally higher, while real estate developer Scentre Group climbed 1.6 percent higher.

Materials fell as damaged rail lines in cyclone-hit north-east Australia disrupted exports of coal.

Miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto closed 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent lower, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.4 percent or 28.24 points to finish the session at 7,225.02.

At the opening, a technical glitch caused problems for some traders. Exchange spokeswoman Hannah Lynch said “connectivity issues” had affected some clients.

The glitch was resolved and it did not affect all traders.

Healthcare and telecom stocks closed higher, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare ending at a near six-month high, while Spark New Zealand added 3.1 percent. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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