September 26, 2018 / 6:53 AM / in 8 months

Australia bank shares fall ahead of inquiry report; NZ stocks flat

* Materials and energy gain on higher commodity and oil prices

* Banks fall, offseting gains on the benchmark

* NZ index increases marginally (Updates to close)

By Aditya Soni

Sept 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose fractionally on Wednesday as gains in materials and energy stocks on higher oil and commodity prices offset losses for banks as release of an inquiry’s interim report on the sector nears.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 percent or 6.4 points to end at 6,192.3 . On Tuesday, the benchmark slipped 1 point.

Dalian iron ore jumped 1.1 percent on Wednesday, boosting buying interest in materials stocks, accounting for most of Wednesday’s gains on the benchmark.

The metals and mining index climbed 1 percent to its highest since Aug. 10.

Both BHP and Rio Tinto Ltd firmed 1.2 percent, taking them to two-month highs.

Energy stocks also advanced, benefiting from a rally in oil prices. Brent crude futures were flat on Wednesday after gaining nearly 1 percent in the previous session.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd, the biggest listed oil and gas explorer, rose 1.5 percent to a near-four year high.

However, financials fell 0.6, erasing most of the benchmark’s gain.

An interim report of the powerful Royal Commission inquiry into Australia’s banking and financial services sector is due no later than Sept. 30.

Investors suspect the Royal Commission could hit the financial sector hard, which is affecting share movement before its release, said Greg McKenna, an independent financial analyst in Australia.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the biggest lender, fell 0.9 percent and was the major top drag on the index, while National Australia Bank Ltd slipped 0.5 percent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged 3.89 points higher to finish the session at 9,349.85.

Gains were dominated by Fletcher Building Ltd which rose 2.2 percent to a near four-week high. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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