November 29, 2017 / 6:08 AM / a year ago

Australia shares end up on Wall St cheer, NZ flat

(Updates to close)

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Wednesday, spurred by a record night on Wall Street ahead of a key U.S. tax vote, with financials and material stocks boosting the benchmark.

U.S. Senate Republicans pushed forth with President Donald Trump’s tax-cut bill on Tuesday in a partisan committee vote that paved the way for a full vote by the Senate as soon as Thursday.

Wall Street was also boosted on Tuesday by strong consumer confidence data and encouraging comments from Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Reserve.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.5 percent or 26.848 points higher at 6011.1.

The financial sector, which accounts for 40 percent of the benchmark index weighting, tracked its Wall Street peers higher to rise 0.6 percent, its biggest daily percentage gain in nearly two months.

“I think the key driver today is the rally in U.S. markets, which has spelled confidence in our markets,” said Ric Spooner, Chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Australia’s ‘Big Four’ banks gained between 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent.

Resources stocks got a lift with mining giant BHP Billiton up 1 percent as Chinese steel futures jumped for a third straight session on Wednesday, touching a six-week high.

Peers Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining also contributed to overall gains, adding 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the healthcare index snapped a nine day rally to fall 0.5 percent, with biotherapeutics company and healthcare sector heavyweight CSL Ltd leading losses with a 0.8 percent decline.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed, rising 0.47 points to finish the session at 8141.96.

Industrial and material stocks helped the index stay in the black though the consumer sector dragged on the benchmark.

Building materials makers Fletcher Building Ltd was the top gainer on the index, rising 1.8 percent and offsetting Meridian Energy Ltd’s 2.1 percent slide. (Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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