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Tech stocks drive Australia shares higher; NZ down

* Viva Energy rises 6.3% after Exxon closes refinery

* Tech stocks top performers, close 3% higher

* CBA HY profit drops, shares down 1.5% (Updates to close)

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday, driven by a rally in tech stocks which hit a record high during the session, with strong domestic earnings also boosting sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.52% higher and settled at 6,856.9.

A positive reporting season so far was keeping investor spirits high, Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter, said.

Insurance Australia’s half yearly core earnings beat estimates, and shares settled 4.6% higher, while gold miner Northern Star Resources added 1.6% after reporting a 46% jump in half yearly net profit.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia recorded a fall in half yearly net profit, sending shares down 1.5%. However, the figure beat estimates and the lender declared a higher dividend than from six months ago.

“There’s disappointment with CBA, a mixed kind of reaction to the result, but nothing particularly serious, ” Jennings said.

The top performers of the session were tech stocks, which settled up 3.1% after hitting a record high during the session, tracking gains in U.S. peers such as Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc.

Afterpay hit a record high during the session and ended over 4% higher, while Zip Co was the top percentage gainer on the benchmark with a rise of 12.2%.

Also among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark was Viva Energy, whose shares rose 6.3% after Exxon Mobil Corp said it would close its 72-year-old Altona refinery in Australia.

The move will leave Viva with just Ampol as its competitor in the refining business. Ampol’s shares rose 1.3%, and both stocks were the top percentage gainers on the energy sub-index.

Gold stocks and miners climbed 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively, on firm prices of underlying commodities.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8% to finish the session at 12,830.03 points. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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