Australia stock market closes early on 'data issues', NZ at record high

* Trading in Australia expected to resume on Tuesday

* Prior to halt, Australian index at 9-month high

* NZ shares gain for 10th session (Updates to close)

Nov 16 (Reuters) - Trading on Australia’s stock exchange was halted just 20 minutes from the open on Monday due to “market data issues”, though the benchmark managed to hit its highest in nine months in the short window, while New Zealand extended gains to a tenth session.

The Australian bourse operator said it identified the underlying issue and had a fix in place to let trading resume on Tuesday at 10 a.m. (2300 GMT Monday).

The benchmark ASX 200 index ended up 1.2% at its highest close since Feb. 27, as early trade went in favour of strong factory output from China, Australia’s top trading partner.

“I think we’ll see extended volumes and more volatility than normal in tomorrow’s trading,” said Nick Twidale, general manager at IC markets.

“It’s a concern that the technology for the major exchange in Australia is at fault for this long.”

Australia also signed up to the world’s largest free trade bloc of 15 Asia-Pacific countries over the weekend. The grouping aims to lower tariffs and may aid in the post-pandemic recovery.

Prior to the halt, financials and energy stocks fuelled the index’s gains, while buy-now-pay-later stocks were weaker after a regulator’s report pointed to financial hardships faced by users.

The so-called “Big Four” banks added as much as between 1.4% and 2.7%, while energy sector heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos gained 1.1% and 1.7%, respectively.

In New Zealand, the benchmark index closed at its highest level of 12,744.92 points.

Air New Zealand was one of the top percentage gainers, closing 3.1% higher, while local shares of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group added 2.8%. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)