* NZ's Jacinda Ardern re-elected as New Zealand's leader on
* Aussie metals and mining index leads
* Crown Resorts hit with another regulatory probe, shares
Oct 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained on Monday after
Victoria state eased its months-long coronavirus lockdown and as
U.S. officials said a new stimulus package could be passed
before presidential elections.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8% or 46.7 points to
6,223.20 by 2336 GMT, led by miners and financials. The
benchmark fell 0.5% on Friday.
Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state which was
at the epicentre of the country's coronavirus outbreak, will see
more freedom of movement as of Monday, with the state government
eyeing a reopening of restaurants and retail stores by Nov. 1.
Global sentiment improved after U.S. House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi said she was optimistic that a legislation on coronavirus
relief package could be pushed through before the Nov. 3
Australian metals and mining index, the largest
constituent on the benchmark, gained 1.3%. Manganese and coal
miner South32 Ltd rallied 5% after reporting a jump in
The world's biggest miner BHP Group Ltd rose 0.7%, while
peer Rio Tinto Ltd added 0.6%.
Australia's "Big Four" lenders - Commonwealth Bank of
Australia, Westpac Banking Corp, National
Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking
Group - rose between 0.8% to 1%.
The healthcare index was boosted by biotech major CSL
Ltd 1.4% gain.
A decliner was Australia's biggest casino operator Crown
Resorts, which fell 9% to a near six-month low, after
it said the country's financial crime watchdog launched a probe
into its Melbourne business on suspicions of money-laundering
and counter-terrorism financing.
Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark index
was little changed at 12,416, in its first trading day since
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's landslide victory in the
parliamentary elections over the weekend.
The top losers on the index were Meridian Energy Ltd
, which dropped 2.5%, followed by Mercury NZ Ltd
, down 2.1%.
(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy