September 14, 2018 / 2:20 AM / 9 days ago

Australia shares rise as investors buy beaten down stocks; NZ flat

* Bargain hunting props up Aussie shares

* Materials and banks lead gains

* Higher iron ore prices boosts materials

By Aditya Soni

Sept 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares bounced on Friday as investors picked up bargains and as materials rose on higher commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.43 percent, or 26.60 points ,to 6,155.30 by 0200 GMT, having fallen 0.8 percent on Thursday.

“The market was down quite strongly yesterday, so we’ve basically gained back about half of what we lost yesterday,” said Dale Raynes, Associate Director at CPS Capital.

The benchmark has lost about 3 percent since the beginning of this month and has fallen for ten of the previous eleven sessions as trade war fears fray nerves. Financials have also been battered by the latest damaging revelations of a high profile inquiry into the sector.

“We are seeing bargain hunting now, I think some of the more rational money is coming back into the market and its picking up some of the things like banks, and some of the resources sector as well,” Raynes added.

Materials, especially miners, led gainers on Friday, underpinned by a rally in iron ore prices. The metals and mining index rose 1.2 percent to a more than one-week high.

Prices of Dalian iron ore climbed 3 percent on Thursday after the United States invited Chinese officials for talks, spurring hopes of a deal to end a trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

The country’s biggest listed firm BHP rose 1.5 percent and was the biggest boost to the benchmark, while Rio Tinto Ltd strengthened about 1 percent to a more than two-week high.

Banks were among the top gainers, with index heavyweight Westpac Banking Corp firming 0.7 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd traded 0.5 percent higher.

Biotherapeutics firm CSL Ltd also advanced as it rose as much as 2.1 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in more than 1-1/2 weeks.

Australia-listed shares of medical device maker Resmed Inc jumped 2.6 percent to a record high after the company launched a new full-face mask for those with sleep apnea.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand shares traded unchanged as gains in utilities stocks were offset by a fall in telecommunications services.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed at 9,249.46.

Teleco Spark New Zealand Ltd dropped as much as 1.7 percent, the biggest drag on the benchmark.

Among gainers, Meridian Energy Ltd jumped 2.1 percent to a record high. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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