January 9, 2018 / 6:15 AM / a year ago

Australian shares hit 10-year closing high; NZ recovers

(Updates to close)

January 9 (Reuters) - Australian shares hit another 10-year closing high on Tuesday, driven up as solid prices for some commodities boosted mining stocks in the wake of China’s latest steps to curb local steel production.

The Australian benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched up 0.1 percent to its strongest close in a decade at 6,138. That marked the fifth consecutive session of gains for the benchmark, which rose 0.1 percent on Monday.

Mining giant BHP Billiton climbed 1.7 percent to its strongest in over three years, while Rio Tinto added 2.3 percent to its best in well over six years.

That came as Chinese iron ore futures rose more than 3 percent on Tuesday to their highest in four months as investors reacted to moves by Beijing to tighten up on implementing steel production capacity cutbacks.

Australia’s metals and mining index finished up 1.3 percent at levels touched nearly half a decade ago.

Energy stocks also stoked buying sentiment after U.S. oil prices again hit their highest since 2015 as OPEC-led production cuts inspired betting on further price rises.

Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy added 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent respectively, scaling levels not seen since August, 2015.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed up 0.1 percent, following Monday’s losses of 0.4 percent.

Gains in utilities stocks outweighed losses in industrials.

Power generator Meridian Energy Ltd rose 0.7 percent, while Auckland International Airport Ltd dulled sentiment, losing 1.6 percent.

Ryman Healthcare Ltd was the top climber on the benchmark, touching record levels. But peer Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp saw its biggest decline in over a month.

Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Joseph Radford

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