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Australia shares extend gains to third day on gold, energy boost

* Gold stocks hit highest close since Jan. 8

* “Big Four” banks up between 0.6% and 1.2%

* Miners down for fourth straight session (Updates to close)

May 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed slightly higher on Monday, helped by gains in gold and energy stocks as underlying commodity prices rose, although heavyweight miners were weighed down by a slump in Asia’s iron ore futures.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.2% at 7,045.9, extending gains into a third session.

“Australian markets are subdued, perhaps with one eye on China’s commodity price displeasure,” Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

China’s state planner has warned against commodity price manipulation, sparking a sell-off in Asia’s iron ore futures, and dragging Australian miners to their lowest since mid-April.

The Australian mining trio of BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group slipped between 2% and 4.3%.

Gold stocks led the gains with a rise of 2.2%. The sub-index hit its highest close in more than four months, as bullion prices hovered near a 4-1/2-month high.

Index heavyweights Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources gained 2.7% and 0.9%, respectively.

Energy stocks tracked an uptick in oil prices and closed 1.1% higher. Woodside Petroleum jumped 1%, while Santos added 2.3%.

Financial stocks closed higher for a third straight session, marking their best finish in three months. The “big four” banks added between 0.6% and 1.2%.

Tech stocks jumped 0.2%, while the healthcare sector added 1.5%.

Online retailer Kogan.com was the top gainer on the benchmark with a near 14% jump, as bargain hunters snapped up the stock after Friday’s plunge.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed down 0.1% at 12,449.0. Synlait Milk fell 1.6% after it forecast an annual loss. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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