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News: WBC Australia shares rise for 4th day, NZ at new record, on political relief

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    SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose for a fourth straight session on Tuesday as investors cheered the end of political roadblocks in Britain and at home, while New Zealand stocks nudged further into record territory.

    Britain's ruling Conservative Party elected Theresa May prime minister, filling a leadership vacuum created by David Cameron last month when he resigned after the surprise vote to leave the European Union.

    Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meanwhile held on to power at the weekend when election counters determined he won a knife-edge election after more than a week of counting.

    The S&P/ASX 200 index (xjo) was up 47.4 points, or 0.9 percent, at 5,384.5 by 0225 GMT. Helped along by upbeat U.S. jobs data on Friday, the benchmark is up nearly 5 percent in four days.

    "There does seem to be a bit of relief with Theresa May stepping forward in the U.K. and it looking like the Coalition will be able to elect Malcolm Turnbull prime minister very soon," said CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy.

    "That, against the backdrop of much improved U.S. data on Friday night, is giving investors cause to cheer."

    Banks, which have been vulnerable to global economic headwinds, led the market higher, with Westpac Banking Corp (WBC) up 2 percent, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) up 1.2 percent, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) up 1.8 percent and National Australia Bank (NAB) 1.5 percent higher.

    Resources stocks also rose after prices of some key commodities such as iron ore gained ground. BHP Billiton (BHP) gained 2 percent, while its spin-off South32 jumped 4 percent. Iron ore major Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) gained 2.3 percent and BHP rival Rio Tinto (RIO) was up 0.6 percent.

    Retailers edged higher. Wesfarmers (WES), which owns No. 2 supermarket chain Coles, was up 0.6 percent while larger rival Woolworths (WOW) crept up 0.1 percent. Metcash (MTS), another supermarket company, was up 0.9 percent.

    New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (nz50) inched up for a second day, rising 18.0 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,080.44 - a record intraday level.

    The subsidiaries of Australian banks posted strong gains, recovering from falls the previous week after S&P's ratings downgraded Australia'a debt outlook. ANZ (ANZ) rose 1.82 percent and Westpac (WBC) was up 1.32 percent.

    Fletcher Building (FBU) was up 1.14 percent while Sky City rose (SKT) 2.19 percent.

    Telecommunications infrastructure provider Chorus (CNU) rose 0.7 percent as the government sought views on telecommunications regulations favoured by Chorus.

 
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