December 20, 2017 / 5:49 AM / a year ago

Australia shares extend gains on materials; NZ falls from record high

(Updates to close)

By Aditya Soni

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended slightly up to finish near a 10-year high for a second straight day on Wednesday, with gains in materials outweighing losses in healthcare and telecom stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 3.8 points to 6,075.600 at the close of trade, reversing from slight losses earlier in the session. The benchmark added 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

Materials accounted for most of the gains on Wednesday, with the metals and mining index climbing 0.6 percent to its highest close since Nov. 7, recording eight consecutive gaining sessions.

Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.9 percent, while South32 Ltd climbed 1.2 percent. Iron ore prices gained 0.8 percent during the past two days before pausing on Wednesday, while copper prices were up slightly.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.3 percent, accounting for most of the gains on the benchmark.

Energy stocks also traded in positive territory, tracking oil prices. Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 0.7 percent to its highest close since Nov. 10.

Telco Telstra Corporation Ltd and healthcare heavyweight CSL Ltd were the biggest drags on the benchmark, falling 1.1 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index retreated from a record high earlier in the session to finish Wednesday’s session 0.2 percent or 17.64 points lower at 8,383.56.

New Zealand reported a slightly larger-than-expected current account deficit in the third quarter domestic companies foreign earnings were lower than foreign firms’ earnings from their New Zealand operations, official data showed.

Heavyweight a2 Milk Company Ltd declined 2.6 percent, pulling the index down, while Z Energy Ltd dipped 2.3 percent. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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