April 19, 2018 / 2:48 AM / 3 months ago

Australian shares rise for 5th day as investors dig miners; NZ also up

* Aussie shares up for 5th session

* Miners dominate gains on strong metal, oil prices

* NZ up as much as 0.4 pct

* Q1 inflation falls to bottom of RBNZ target band

By Chris Thomas

April 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose for a fifth straight session on Thursday, with material stocks claiming the largest share of the gains on the back of surging metal and oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent or 32.2 points to 5,893.6 by 0223 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Wednesday.

Fears of tightening supply of aluminium and nickel following U.S. sanctions on Russian mining giant Rusal have sent prices of the metals to multi-year highs.

Separately, prices for steel-making raw materials also rose, with the most-traded iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange up 4.5 percent at 0129 GMT.

“It’s clear that the big lift we’ve seen in industrial commodities in overnight trading has not only fed into those markets but has lift share market sentiment,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

“In particular, the unexpected increased demand for oil appears to have helped investors focus on the good, stronger, underlying economies around the globe,” McCarthy added.

Top miner BHP Billiton was the biggest gainer by weight on the index, rising as much as 3.4 percent after reporting an 8 pct rise in third-quarter iron ore shipments.

“It was largely expected that BHP’s iron ore expansion was done, and so this increase in production of about 8 percent in the quarter was a surprise to the market,” McCarthy said.’

BHP rival Rio Tinto was up as much as 3 percent.

Alumina Ltd was the top advancer on the index, jumping 10.5 percent to a near-decade high, riding the surge in prices of aluminium.

Meanwhile, data showed employment in Australia rose by 4,900 in March.

Wealth manager AMP Ltd countered some of the gains on the index, sliding 1.8 percent to a more than four-year low.

AMP shares have lost over 8 percent this week after an inquiry into the financial sector heard that the company lied to Australia’s corporate watchdog for almost a decade to cover its widespread practice of charging customers for services it did not provide.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.2 percent or 20.73 points to 8,390.22.

Headline inflation fell to just 1.1 percent in the first quarter, suggesting the country’s central bank is all but certain to signal it will keep rates on hold for some time.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company accounted for most of the gains on the index, up as much as 3.3 percent.

Synlait Milk rose as much as 3.3 percent to an all-time high. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Mensholong Lepcha; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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