Oct 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged higher on Monday, hovering around a four-month high touched in the previous session, with material stocks leading the gains on a jump in base metal prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent, 33.446 points, to 5,847.5 by 0119 GMT, hitting its highest intraday level since May 16. The benchmark closed up 0.3 percent on Friday.
Coking coal climbed as much as 8 percent to hit its exchange-set ceiling on Friday, while iron ore rose 5 percent.
Nickel prices hit a one-month high on Friday on concerns China might order further output cuts as it ramps up efforts to clean its skies.
“Mining stocks are driving the market on the back of the base metals rally on Friday,” said Peter Spanos, volatility risk manager at CMC Markets.
Australia’s materials index rose as much as 1.6 percent to a one-week high, with BHP Billiton up as much as 2.2 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in ten weeks, and Rio Tinto gaining as much as 2.7 percent.
Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd added as much as 3.5 percent, while Mineral Resources, which provides mining infrastructure services across the country, rose as much as nearly 9 percent to a record high.
Mineral explorer Galaxy Resources Ltd was the biggest gainer on the index, rising as much as 4.9 percent to a nine-month high.
Financials also led the gainers on the index, with the “Big Four” banks adding between 0.1 percent and 0.6 percent.
Westpac Banking Corp touched its highest since May 16 while Commonwealth Bank of Australia hit a three-week high.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.153 percent, or 12.38 points, to 8,077.52.
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.
Healthcare, industrial and real estate stocks dragged the index down.
Ryman Healthcare Ltd slipped as much as 2.5 percent, its biggest intraday percentage loss in seven months, and was the top loser on the main index.
Air New Zealand lost as much as 2.3 percent, while Freightways was down as much as 1.4 percent. (Reporting By Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)