November 17, 2017 / 2:18 AM / a year ago

Australian shares track Wall Street gains; NZ up

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares were higher on Friday, tracking strong earnings-driven gains on Wall Street and led by financial and energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.3 percent or 14.789 points to 5,957.3 by 0102 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent on Thursday.

James McGlew, executive director of corporate stock broking for Argonaut, said risk appetite appears to be returning to the U.S. market with the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index on its way towards the 24,000 mark.

Australia’s financial sector led the gains on the index with the country’s ‘Big Four’ banks rising as much as 0.4 percent, tracking the S&P Financial index rise on Wall Street.

In the energy sector, Santos Ltd and Whitehaven Coal Ltd climbed as much as 3.8 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

Santos on Thursday said it had rejected a A$9.5 billion ($7.2 billion) takeover approach in August, sending its shares up 13 percent on speculation another higher offer was likely to emerge.

In other bluechip stocks, James Hardie Industries PLC rose 2.6 percent and Telstra Corporation Ltd gained 1.3 percent.

The metals and mining index edged down 0.2 percent as copper and most other base metal prices fell on Thursday. Nickel sulfide miner Western Areas Ltd fell as much as 2.24 percent as LME nickel slid 2.7 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd slid 0.7 percent. The miner said on Thursday it hopes to fully divest its troubled U.S. onshore shale business in around two years and is also seeking a buyer for its nickel business in Australia.

The Australian benchmark index, however, is on track to end the week lower.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2 percent or 16.28 points to 8,050.98.

a2 Milk Company Ltd rose as much as 2.7 percent on track to end its third consecutive session higher, while Fletcher Building Ltd gained 1.5 percent.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nicole Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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