September 11, 2017 / 7:26 AM / 10 months ago

Australia shares advance as buyers see value in financials; NZ flat

(Updates to close)

Sept 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Monday, as investors moved into beaten-down financial stocks in search of better yields, while low metal prices weighed on material stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 percent or 40.483 points to 5713.1, after losing 0.3 percent on Friday.

The financial index, which has fallen the past three weeks, gained 1.6 percent.

“There has been a lot of negativity around banks, and I guess from time to time, there is some provided opportunities for investors to have another look at what would be considered fairly substantial yield in the market,” said Damien Hennessy of Heuristic Investment Systems in Melbourne.

“Financials are yield attractive,” he said.

Shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which has been battered by allegations of a breach in money laundering rules, closed 1.4 percent higher on Monday.

The other three of Australia’s Big Four banks climbed between 1.7 percent and 2.2 percent.

Macquarie Group, which rose 3 percent, said it expects its first-half net profit to be higher a year earlier.

Energy stocks inched higher as oil prices edged up after the Saudi oil minister discussed possibly extending a pact to cut global oil supplies beyond March 2018 amid worries that energy demand would be hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

Origin Energy and Santos Ltd ended 1.6 percent and 2.6 percent higher, respectively.

Base metal prices weighed on materials stocks as Chinese iron ore futures fell to their weakest in almost a month on Monday, and nickel led an across-the-board decline in Chinese base metals futures.

Mining giants BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd slid 1.8 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Gold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd dropped 3 percent after gold prices dropped early on Monday after hitting their highest level in over a year in the previous session.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.22 points higher to finish the session at 7851.750.

A2 Milk Company Ltd rose for a fourth day and closed at an all-time high. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd also closed at a record high after gaining for a ninth consecutive session.

The biggest percentage loser on the index, insurance provider CBL Corporation Ltd, closed at NZ$3.05, its lowest since Aug. 26, 2016. (Reporting by Nicole Pinto; Additional reporting by Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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