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May 30 (Reuters) - Australia's shares ended modestly higher on Tuesday, helped by gains in the Big Four banks, which rose after the government delayed the date of payment of bank tax and excluded some liabilities from the levy.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished up 0.2 percent at 5,717.90. On Monday, the benchmark dropped 0.8 percent.
The government delayed the date of the first payment of its A$6.2 billion ($4.61 billion) bank tax by three months.
The legislation did not include any sunset clause, as sought by the banks.
The 'Big 4' Australian banks gained as a result in a range of about 1 percent to 1.5 percent.
Macquarie Group was about 0.8 percent up.
Earlier housing data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed April building approvals rose 4.4 percent from the prior month but declined 17.2 percent from a year earlier.
The data came on the back of regulators' attempts to cool an overheated housing market by imposing limits on mortgage lending by big banks, denting their outlook.
Miners recovered from a rout on Monday after tensions over a potential iron-ore tax on mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP by the Western Australia state government eased.
Rio Tinto and BHP shares were up about 1 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.79 points lower at 7,411.95 as losses in energy stocks offset gains in cosumer driven stocks.
Z Energy was the benchmark's biggest loser by weight, down 1.6 percent.
$1 = 1.3455 Australian dollars Reporting by Rushil Dutta; Editing by Kim Coghill