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BHP's half yearly results drive Australia shares to one-year high

* BHP declares record interim dividend, posts best H1 profit in 7 years

* NAB gains as quarterly profit picks up

* NZ50 snaps five-day losing streak, closes 0.8% higher (Updates to close)

Feb 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended Tuesday’s session at a one-year high, driven by strong half-yearly results and a record dividend payout from global miner BHP, while elevated commodity prices continued to boost the mining and energy sectors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.7% to finish at 6,917.3 points. The benchmark rose 0.9% on Monday.

BHP climbed 2.7% after it posted its best first-half profit in seven years, declared a bumper interim dividend and said it expects strong demand from China to continue in 2021.

“If we knew that we were going to be stuck in the middle of a global pandemic at this time of the year, would we be expecting numbers like this? I don’t think we would. BHP coming out with their numbers has certainly excited the market and the sector,” said Nick Twidale, CEO of APAC at FP Markets.

Mining heavyweight Rio Tinto, which reports earnings later this week, rallied on BHP’s results and gained 3%.

That helped a sub-index of miners advance 1.4% to its highest in three weeks, while copper prices hitting a near nine-year high also provided support.

On the coronavirus vaccine front, Australia’s medical regulator provisionally approved a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca on Tuesday.

Energy stocks climbed 2.1% on the back of a rise in oil prices as extreme weather conditions shut wells and refineries in Texas, United States, raising supply concerns.

Santos gained 1.7%, while Woodside Petroleum saw its best session in one month.

The heavyweight financial index edged 0.5% higher, with three of the so-called “Big Four” banks closing in the black.

The country’s second-largest lender, National Australia Bank gained 1.1% after its first-quarter results and encouraging comments about economic recovery.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8% to 12,610.72 points, snapping a five day losing streak. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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