November 7, 2017 / 5:58 AM / in a year

Australian shares finish near 10-year high; NZ flat

(Updates to close)

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher on Tuesday, after crossing the critical 6,000-point threshold to scale a near 10-year peak, as material stocks led gains following strong commodities prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished up 1 percent, or 60.52 points, at 6,014.3, its biggest intra-day percentage gain in more than a month.

Material stocks were the top gainers on the main index with Australia’s biggest miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rising 3.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. Rio Tinto touched its highest in over 6 years.

Iron ore futures in China jumped to their highest in nearly six weeks on Tuesday, extending recent gains along with steel prices while spot iron ore flagged its biggest spike since July on Monday.

Financials also ended higher with Australia’s “Big Four” banks up between 0.3 percent and 1 percent.

Australia’s central bank stood pat on interest rates as expected, holding rates at a record low 1.5 percent while it warned of low inflation and high household debt but was upbeat on growth.

New Zealand’s benchmark index finished marginally lower as losses in consumer staples stocks offset gains in telecom shares and healthcare.

The S&P/NZX 50 index inched down 0.05 percent, or 3.96 points, at 8,049.67.

A2 Milk was the worst performer on the main index, slipping 4.5 percent while telco Spark New Zealand and medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare led the gainers, both ending up 2.8 percent.

New Zealand launched a review of its central bank’s mandate on Tuesday, making good on an election promise to include maximising employment as a monetary policy goal and providing investors with some relief by excluding currency targets from its overhaul. (Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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