(Updates to close)
Oct 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Monday, to finish at their highest in five months, on the back of strong base metal prices that led material stocks higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.6 percent higher or 32.646 points at 5,846.8, its highest since May 16. The benchmark index rose 0.3 percent on Friday.
The materials index closed at a more than one-month high with BHP Billiton Ltd rising 2.3 percent, to a one-month high.
Chinese rebar steel futures advanced for a third straight day to hit a one-month peak on Monday, while London copper prices eased but still stayed near three-year highs.
Steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel Ltd finished 3.1 percent higher and Mineral Resources Ltd, which provides mining infrastructure services across the country, closed at a record high.
The financial sector gained contributing to the rise of the benchmark index, with the country’s ‘Big Four’ banks closing between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent higher.
Westpac Banking Corp closed 0.5 percent higher and National Australia Bank Ltd gained 0.3 percent, both closing at around a five-month high.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat or 1.41 points higher at 8,090.73.
Growth in New Zealand’s services sector slipped in September as an inconclusive general election hit sales activity.
The acting Prime Minister Bill English on Monday said it could take until the end of the week to confirm the country’s next government.
Telecommunications services and materials sectors rose, but industrial and consumer staples offset gains on the index.
Fletcher Building Ltd and Spark New Zealand Ltd closed 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent higher, respectively.
Air New Zealand Ltd shed 1.3 percent and a2 Milk Company Ltd edged 0.9 percent lower.
Reporting by Nicole Pinto; Editing by Jacqueline Wong