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Australian shares end at over 5-month high as CSL, financials gain

* CSL single-handedly boosted benchmark - analyst

* ANZ climbs after resuming dividends

* Gold stocks buck upward trend (Updates to close)

Aug 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a more than five-month high on Wednesday, boosted by gains in drugmaker CSL Ltd and financial stocks, with lower infections of the novel coronavirus in the country aiding sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.7% higher at 6,167.60, its highest close since March 6, 2020.

Shares of CSL, one of the largest listed Australian stocks, gained 6.4% to close at their highest level since April 29 after the company posted a 17% rise in its annual profit. The stock’s jump helped the Australian healthcare index climb about 4% at a near six-month closing high.

“CSL alone is adding close to 30 points on the ASX 200. So, that stock is single-handedly boosting the Aussie market,” Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec said.

The financial index added 1.2%, buoyed by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, up 3.4%, after the lender resumed dividend payouts, having halted them early this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

The remaining three of the Big Four banks all closed around 1% higher.

Meanwhile, Australia’s second most-populous state recorded 12 COVID-19 deaths, down from 17 a day earlier, signalling of a further stabilization in new cases.

“COVID-19 obviously is always at the front of buying when it comes to investment decisions at the moment,” Daglian said.

Limiting gains on the benchmark, the gold index fell 3.4% on lower bullion prices. Resolute Mining Ltd fell 17.5% and West African Resources Ltd lost 6.9%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.8% lower at 11,751.3.

Top percentage losers on the benchmark were A2 Milk Company Ltd, down 5.4%, followed by Synlait Milk Ltd, losing 4.6%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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