September 21, 2018 / 6:46 AM / 6 months ago

Australian shares rise as materials rally; NZ at record

* Materials push Aussie shares higher

* Strong copper prices support materials rally

* NZ up on week, closes at record (Updates to close)

Sept 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained on Friday, following a strong finish on Wall Street, with materials stocks leading the charge on the back of higher copper prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 percent or 25.10 points to 6,193.60 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Thursday but gained 0.5 percent for the week.

“We followed from the U.S. with the Dow closing at a record, although the markets have been driven by big tech stocks like Apple and Microsoft,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Trade-sensitive industrial stocks led the Dow Jones industrial average to a record closing high on Thursday, with all three major U.S. indexes closing up as trade worries subsided.

Locally, materials were the most dominant gainers, with the metals and mining index climbing 1.7 percent to its highest since August 14, underpinned by a jump in copper prices.

BHP, the world’s largest miner, climbed 2.5 percent to its highest in more three weeks and was the biggest contributor to index gains. Rival Rio Tinto Ltd strengthened 1.8 percent to a near two-month high.

Consumer staples also added to index gains as heavyweight supermarket operators Woolworths Group Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd rose 0.9 percent and 0.2 percent respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.2 percent or 15.10 points to finish the session at a record high of 9,375.97, up 1.1 percent on the week.

Industrials dominated the gains, with airport operator Auckland International Airport Ltd rising 2.5 percent to its highest in more than 18 months.

Health care stocks advanced, led by retirement-home operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd’s 1.1 percent rise. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru)

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