October 17, 2017 / 1:07 AM / 10 months ago

Australian shares hit five-month high; NZ edges down

Oct 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares touched a five-month high on Tuesday, buoyed by another record finish on Wall Street and higher oil and copper prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent, or 35.237 points, to 5,882 by 0040 GMT, on track to mark its fifth straight session of gains. It closed up 0.6 percent on Monday.

Wall Street closed at record highs, and copper touched a three-year peak on upbeat Chinese data, while oil prices jumped due to supply worries after Iraqi forces seized the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters.

“The global economy is looking pretty good at the moment, and commodities are doing quite well; the issues in Iraq are boosting oil,” said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets.

The Australian benchmark index was led by financial and material stocks.

Financial stocks rose as much as 0.5 percent to a near 11-week high, with the “Big Four” banks adding between 0.8 percent and 1.2 percent.

“China reported some surprise inflation numbers and it is going to run the risk of exposing its inflation to other parts of the world,” said Weston.

“There is the risk that we could be unprepared for some rate hikes next year. People are expressing this through reflation trade, which means buying banks.”

China’s producer price inflation unexpectedly accelerated to a six-month high in September.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, which sold its pension unit to financial services firm IOOF Holdings on Tuesday, rose as much as 0.4 percent to a four-week high.

The mining and materials index climbed as much as 0.9 percent, with Rio Tinto Ltd hitting its highest in over four years after it reported a 6 percent jump in third-quarter iron ore shipments.

Gold miner Independence Group NL was the biggest gainer on the main index, up as much as 6.1 percent to nearly an 8-month high.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent, or 14.47 points to 8,076.48.

The country’s inflation rate rose more than expected in the third quarter to overtake central bank forecasts, but analysts said it was unlikely to alter the bank’s determination to keep rates on hold for years.

Information technology, healthcare and telecom stocks pulled the index down.

Software company Xero Ltd fell as much as 4.4 percent and was the biggest loser on the main index. (Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chris Thomas; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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