July 20, 2017 / 6:39 AM / a month ago

Australia shares end higher as bank stocks rally, NZ slips

(Updates to close)

July 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended stronger on Thursday, cheered by a strong rally in bank stocks while record highs on Wall Street further buoyed sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 29.37 points, or 0.51 percent, to 5,761.5 at the close of trade. The benchmark gained 0.8 percent on Wednesday.

Bank stocks were on a tear, with the "Big Four" advancing by about 1.1 to 2.8 percent after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) unveiled renewed capital requirements for banks.

The new requirements showed no imminent rules for higher risk weights for mortgages while statements from each of the lenders that they were well positioned to cope.

Energy stocks snapped two days of losses with oil and gas giants Santos Ltd and Woodside Petroleum feeding gains, along with a climb in oil prices.

Santos ended 8.3 percent higher due to a jump in quarterly sales revenue while Woodside closed marginally higher despite a drop in quarterly output.

The three major index in Wall Street touched fresh highs as technology stocks surpassed the dot com era record.

At the same time, Myer Holdings Ltd was the biggest percentage decliner on the benchmark. The department store operator tumbled 11.4 percent at a point to a record low after trimming its full year profit guidance.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 60.31 points, or 0.78 percent, to finish the session at 7,672.44.

The bourse was pulled down by material stocks with Fletcher Building dominating losses. The builder's shares faltered 6.2 percent to its lowest in over a year after chief executive Mark Adamson stepped down and it cut its earnings guidance for the second time in four months. (Reporting by Hanna Paul; Additional Reporting by Susan Mathew; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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