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Australia shares start year on a high as commodities shine

* Trading volumes remain at a fraction of monthly average

* Link Administration drops as U.S. co withdraws takeover offer

* New Zealand’s bourse closed for public holiday

Jan 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares started 2021 on a positive note, lifted by mining stocks as upbeat commodity prices provided a glimmer of optimism for investors, while the rollout of coronavirus vaccines revived prospects of swift global economic revival.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.94% at 6,648.9 points by 1240 GMT on Monday. The benchmark closed 1.4% lower on Thursday. Financial markets in Australia and New Zealand were closed for New Year’s Day.

“Recent strength in commodity prices have helped the likes of Fortescue Metals Group, which is in turn lifting the broader benchmark ... gains among financials also seem to be helping,” Steven Daghlian, market analyst with CommSec said.

Investors are still counting on central banks to keep money cheap while the rollout of coronavirus vaccines helps revive the global economy over time.

“There seems to be a bit of optimism at play at the start of the year, along with a strong lead from Wall Street ... though participants still have an eye on domestic coronavirus cases,” Daghlian added.

Miners rose more than 1%, with iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group gaining 2.5%, supported by supply concerns and China’s robust steel demand despite the coronavirus pandemic-led disruption.

Gold stocks jumped 2.8%, with largest independent gold miner Newcrest Mining surging 2.5%.

Financials climbed, with the so-called “Big Four” banks advancing in the range of 1.3% to 1.6%.

Superannuation administrator Link Administration Holdings Ltd was the biggest loser in the benchmark index, as it fell up to 13.2% after U.S.-based SS&C Technology Holdings withdrew its offer to acquire the company.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 890, while 561 declined. Trading occurred at a fraction of the 30-day average volume of 652.6 million shares.

New Zealand bourse was closed for a public holiday on Monday. (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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