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Westpac lifts Australian shares higher, miners and oil firms cap gains

May 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Monday, boosted by gains in the country’s second-biggest lender Westpac Banking Corp after upbeat earnings, but gains were capped by losses in miners and energy companies on weak commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.5% at 7,059.5 as at 0034 GMT.

The top percentage gainers on the were Charter Hall Group, up 1.14%, followed by Ampol Ltd, gaining 1.06% and Blackmores Ltd, rising 1.06%.

Financial stocks were the biggest percentage gainers, adding about 1.5%, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia gaining 0.5% each.

Westpac jumped as much as 4.4%, after it reported a near three-fold jump in its first-half cash earnings, and it laid out a three-year plan to cut costs.

Miners were down 0.4% led by De Grey Mining Ltd , down 1.4%, followed by Aurelia Metals, losing 1.2%.

Among gold miners, Andromeda Metals soared 8.9%, while Calidus Resources jumped 2.63%.

Energy sub-index was down 0.7%, with Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum losing 1.6% and 0.6%, respectively. Oil prices declined on Friday on worries that fuel demand in India would be impacted by soaring COVID-19 infections and consequent lockdowns.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose as much as 0.4% to 12,776.60, hitting its highest level since Feb. 18 and rising for a fourth straight session.

The top percentage gainers on the benchmark were SKY Network Television and Oceania Healthcare, both rising as much as 2.4%.

In other markets, the S&P 500 E-minis futures were up 0.32%, Nikkei futures edged up 0.2%, while the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was nearly flat. (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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