(Updates to close) Australian shares took heart from a strong finish on Wall Street in the previous session to close at a two-week high on Monday, with healthcare and financial stocks touching record highs.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 percent or 6.249 points to close at 5,988.8.
Technology stocks led the U.S. S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record closing highs on Friday, with the S&P ending above 2,600 points for the first time.
In Australia, healthcare stocks soared, with the sector index hitting an all-time high, after China cut import tarrifs last week.
China, Australia’s largest trading partner, on Friday said it will cut import tariffs on consumer products ranging from meats and whisky to deodorant and cashmere clothes, as part of a drive to lower costs and help stimulate consumer spending at home.
Biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd was the biggest boost on the benchmark, rising 0.5 percent to finish at a record high.
Financial stocks also lent the index some support, with the country’s biggest investment bank Macquarie Group rising 0.9 percent to top the A$100 mark for the first time.
Downer EDI was the biggest gainer on the index. Shares of the engineering firm jumped 5.1 percent to a two-week high after upgrading its full-year profit guidance thanks to larger-than-expected cost savings from its purchase of Spotless Group.
But miner South32 Ltd weighed on the benchmark, snapping two straight sessions of gains to fall 2.6 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZ 50 rose 0.6 percent to finish at a record high.
Healthcare stocks provided the biggest boost to the index, with Ryman Healthcare climbing 5.6 percent.
Industrials and consumer staples also lifted the index, with Auckland International Airport gaining 2.5 percent and a2 Milk climbing 1.7 percent. (Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)