May 1, 2018 / 3:04 AM / 3 months ago

Australian shares edge up as financials firm; NZ flat

* Financials push Aussie shares higher

* ANZ posts more than 1-mth high on rise in cash earnings

* Materials rise on firmer commodities prices

By Aditya Soni

May 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares ticked up on Tuesday, boosted by financials and real estate stocks, while the healthcare sector slid in line with U.S. peers.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.5 percent or 30.5 points to 6013.20 by 0254 GMT. The benchmark added 0.5 percent on Monday.

Banks were the biggest gainers on the benchmark, with the Australian financial index rising 1.1 percent to near its highest in three weeks.

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority slugged Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) with an extra A$1 billion ($753 million) capital requirement as it released a scathing report into how the bank’s “complacent” governance allowed money-laundering to flourish.

“Its bit of a relief rally, people knew there was something coming, they expected it be potentially worse, and whilst the A$1 billion charge looks like a terrible headline, ultimately it’s not as bad as what people were thinking”, said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

Shares of top lender CBA firmed 1.5 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) climbed as much as 2.1 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in about 19 weeks.

ANZ said on Tuesday its half-year cash earnings from continued operations rose 4 percent, helped by a sharp fall in bad debt charges and expenses declining marginally.

Real estate stocks also accumulated gains, with Dexus climbing 2.2 percent to its highest in almost 14 weeks.

The company confirmed on Tuesday its market guidance for a 4.5-5.0 percent rise in distributions per security for the 12 months ending June 30.

Materials were also firmer, underpinned by higher prices for copper and aluminium.

Global miner BHP rose about 1.2 percent to its highest in more than two months, while Alumina Ltd climbed 2.8 percent.

But Rio Tinto traded 0.4 percent lower after Australia’s corporate watchdog said on Tuesday it has expanded legal action against the miner and two former top executives, alleging a failure to recognise an impairment in its Mozambique coal assets in 2012 financial statements.

CSL Ltd, Ramsay Health Care Ltd, and Australia-listed shares of Resmed Inc, which form a substantial chunk of the Australian health sector, fell in a range of 0.4 percent and 4.6 percent, tracking a rout in U.S. health care shares.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ticked up 0.01 percent or 0.88 points to 8,444.46.

The a2 Milk Company Ltd rose about 1 percent and agribusiness operator Scales Corporation Ltd strengthened 1.1 percent.

Countering those gains was a slump in materials, with Fletcher Building Ltd falling 2 percent after casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group said the construction of a convention centre being built by Fletcher faced new delays.

SkyCity Entertainment flagged a likely 3 percent growth in full-year core earnings.

$1 = 1.3280 Australian dollars Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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