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Australia shares hit record peak as economic data boosts risk appetite

* Aus Q1 GDP +1.8% vs Reuters poll +1.5%

* Miners gain for 5th straight day

* Energy stocks top gainers on Aussie benchmark (Updates to close)

June 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares scaled a record high on Wednesday, as investors lapped up data that showed the country’s first-quarter economic growth came in better than expected and shrugged off concerns over fresh COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

The S&P/ASX 200, which has climbed to record highs a multiple times in recent sessions, closed 1.1% higher at 7,217.8. The benchmark ended 0.3% lower on Tuesday.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed gross domestic product rose 1.8%, topping estimates, while increased consumer and business spending lifted output.

“Pent-up demand and the lagged effects of stimulus measures for household spending is still powering the Australian economy along,” Robert Carnell, regional head of research for Asia-Pacific at ING Economics said in a note.

He added, however, that with total GDP higher than pre-COVID levels, the period of most rapid catch-up had probably passed.

Miners, the biggest constituent on the Aussie benchmark, rose 2%, and were up for a fifth straight day due to firmer commodity prices.

Global miner Rio Tinto ended the session 2.1% higher, while rival BHP Ltd hit its biggest closing high since May 18.

Energy stocks tracked a jump in oil prices to close 4.1% higher in their best session since late February.

Oil and gas explorers Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd rose 4.6% and 6.5%, respectively, with the latter closing at its highest in nearly three months.

Meanwhile, the state of Victoria extended a snap COVID-19 lockdown for a second week in capital Melbourne as authorities battle fresh cases.

Travel stocks were still undeterred with Flight Centre ending 2.9% higher, and Sydney Airport hitting its highest close in three weeks.

Steven Daghlian, a market analyst at CommSec, said travel stocks were coming off the back of heavy declines in May, but had “held up quite well and the market hasn’t really paid too much attention to it.”

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 closed 0.2% lower at 12,440.05. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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