Australia shares end at near 8-month peak; NZ hits all-time high

* Oil hits near 2019 highs

* NZ index crosses 10,000 level

* Financials gain for sixth straight session

* Gold miners hold back Aussie benchmark (Updates to close)

April 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended at a near 8-month peak on Tuesday, bolstered by gains in banking and energy stocks, while New Zealand closed at a record high.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 1 percent, or 59.60 points, at 6,319.40. The benchmark had added about 0.1 percent on Thursday.

Energy stocks extended gains as trading resumed after Easter holidays, jumping 2.5 percent as oil prices touched near 2019 highs after Washington announced all Iran sanction waivers would end by May.

The move to tighten Iran sanctions comes amid other curbs Washington has placed on Venezuela's oil exports and as producer club OPEC has led supply cuts since the start of the year to support crude prices.

The energy sector has been among top performers in Australia this year, rising 19 percent.

Oil and gas players Santos Ltd and Origin Energy Ltd rose 3.1 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.

Financials, the largest sector in the benchmark, advanced 1.1 percent, extending their winning streak to a sixth straight day.

The Aussie dollar stands to gain as China's economic outlook is relatively stable and commodity prices are strong, said Mathan Somasundaram, a Blue Ocean Equities market portfolio strategist.

"That kind of higher currency means the banks tend to move higher as well," he added.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group gained more than 1 percent each.

However, gold miners held back the benchmark as Australia's main gold index fell 1 percent to close at its lowest in nearly two months.

Gold was outperforming due to trade war worries and concerns about global slowdown, but strong data from China and the United States calmed some of those concerns. So, gold is going into a seasonal weak period, added Somasundaram.

Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining slipped 1.5 percent each.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to close at an all-time high of 10,004.84. The index had fallen 0.2 percent on Thursday.

Heavyweight a2 Milk Company climbed 2.4 percent, while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare jumped 3.1 percent. (Reporting by Mensholong Lepcha; additional reporting by Aditya Soni; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

2019-04-23 08:47:56

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