Nov 1 (Reuters) – Australian shares rose on Wednesday on the back of gains in materials stocks as Dalian iron ore futures climbed after five consecutive sessions of declines.

Sentiment was also positive ahead of earnings results from some of the country’s biggest lenders.

“The market is waiting on profit reports from National Australia Bank and Westpac, and there is probably some confidence on those being fairly clean results with a bit of upside, potentially,” said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 percent, or 39.58 points, to 5,948.60 by 0023 GMT.

It fell 0.2 percent on Tuesday as manufacturing growth cooled more than expected in China, a key export market for Australian resources.

National Australia Bank Ltd rose as much as 0.6 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp climbed as much as 0.5 percent. NAB and Westpac are scheduled to announce their results on Thursday and Monday, respectively.

Among mining stocks, BHP Billiton rose up to 1.1 percent, while iron ore major Rio Tinto gained as much as 0.9 percent.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, which only mines iron ore, jumped 3.2 percent.

Western Areas was the top gainer on the main index, up 7.2 percent, as nickel closed at its highest since June 2015 in electronic trade on Tuesday.

The Australian mining index rose as much as 1.6 percent on Wednesday, in its biggest intraday percentage gain in over two weeks.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.9 percent, or 71.62 points, to 8,074.72, weighed down by falls in consumer staples.

Statistics New Zealand said on Wednesday the unemployment rate fell more than expected to 4.6 percent in the third quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast an unemployment rate of 4.7 percent.

a2 Milk was the biggest drag on the index, shedding as much as 11.2 percent, the most since Dec. 2, 2016. Dairy peer Synlait Milk Ltd declined as much as 3.9 percent.

Homebuilder Fletcher Building Ltd was the second biggest drag, losing as much as 4.4 percent a day after the country’s new prime minister said a ban on foreigners buying existing homes would begin in early 2018, but the restrictions would not apply to Australians. (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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