November 16, 2017 / 6:28 AM / a year ago

Aussie shares take heart from Santos bid, NZ higher

(Updates to close)

Nov 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended 0.3 percent higher on Thursday, drawing strength from Santos Ltd which spiked to its highest in more than a year after turning down a takeover bid, prompting speculation of a new offer.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.2 percent or 9.265 points to 5943.5, snapping four straight losing sessions. The benchmark dropped 0.6 percent on Tuesday.

Santos Ltd, Australia’s third-largest independent gas producer, said it had rejected a A$9.5 billion takeover approach from Pennsylvania-based Harbour Energy in August, deeming the offer inadequate.

Santos shares ended 13 percent higher.

Financial stocks also gained with three of the “Big Four” banks up between 0.1 percent and 0.6 percent. Westpac Banking Corp shed 0.3 percent, its fourth falling session.

The New Zealand central bank on Wednesday ordered Westpac’s New Zealand unit to boost capital levels after Westpac failed to meet capital adequacy requirements.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia easily overcame protest votes against executive remuneration and board appointments at an annual general meeting.

Australian employment rose for a 13th straight month in October, the longest stretch of gains since the early 1990s, with the jobless rate dipping to its lowest in more than 4 1/2 years.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.4 percent, or 34.76 points, to 8034.7 with consumer staples and utilities stocks leading the rise.

Dairy company a2 Milk was the biggest boost to the index, ending up 2.1 percent while generator Contact Energy Ltd rose 2 percent.

Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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