June 28, 2017 / 7:03 AM / a year ago

Australia shares rise 0.7 pct led by banks, miners; New Zealand flat

(Updates to close)

June 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares had their biggest rise in two weeks on Wednesday, led by financials after an insurance company hit a record high and by materials stocks on higher commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 percent or 41.51 points higher to finish the session at 5,755.70. The benchmark fell 0.1 percent on Tuesday.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd, which ended 6.4 percent higher to a record close, pushed the banking sector up and was the top gainer on the financials index.

Its shares hit a record intra-day high after the firm raised its reported margin guidance range for full-year 2017.

Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of Australia ended 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent higher, respectively. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd was up 1.1 percent and National Australia Bank Ltd by 0.4 percent.

Gains in commodity prices lifted miners. The metals and mining index ended 1.5 percent higher to reach its best close in two weeks.

BlueScope Steel Ltd rose 2.7 percent while Sims Metal Management Ltd ended 5.4 percent higher to its highest close in more than five years.

Industrial stocks fell with Brambles Ltd shedding 1.7 percent while ALS Ltd closed 3.7 percent lower.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 7,624.49.

The consumer discretionary sector weighed on the index with Kathmandu Holdings Ltd falling 2.4 percent.

On the other hand, material stocks gained with Fletcher Building Ltd closing 1 percent higher. (Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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