* Gains in BHP drives benchmark higher
* Energy stocks slip on lower oil prices
* a2 Milk pushes up New Zealand’s benchmark (Updates to close)
Nov 1 (Reuters) - Australia’s benchmark index closed slightly higher on Thursday as shares in BHP shot up as much as 6.2 percent after the world’s biggest miner announced a blockbuster $10.4 billion shareholder return.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.18 percent or 10.500 points to close at 5,840.800.
The metals and mining index was the largest boost to the benchmark, driven by gains in BHP.
BHP’s Australia-listed shares soared as the firm stuck to its earlier promise of returning the entire net proceeds from the sale of its U.S. shale business to shareholders.
Meanwhile, shares of Rio Tinto Ltd rose 2.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd firmed 2.9 percent.
Among financial stocks which fell was benchmark heavyweight Commonwealth Bank of Australia which weakened 1 percent.
Before the market open, the lender said it would issue debt through a hybrid capital notes offer to raise about A$750 million ($534.53 million).
Energy stocks slipped 0.9 percent at the close, reflecting weaker oil prices.
Sector giant Woodside Petroleum Ltd fell 1 percent and Santos Ltd shed 1.5 percent.
Among real estate stocks, Dexus lost 2.6 percent and Mirvac Group fell 2.3 percent.
Home prices in Sydney posted their worst annual performance since 1990 in October, dragging national values lower.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 1.05 percent or 91.5200 points higher to finish the session at 8,843.8300.
Dairy firm a2 Milk Company rose 2.7 percent.
$1 = 1.4031 Australian dollars Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore