Australia shares end higher on banks; Brambles soars on deal talks



* Financials, tech stocks lead gains

* Brambles jumps after early talks of takeover (Updates to close)

By Archishma Iyer

May 16 (Reuters) - Gains in banks and tech stocks helped Australian shares buck a wider gloom in equities on Monday to end the session higher, with logistics firm Brambles soaring on talks of a takeover.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO rose about 0.3% to 7,093 at the close of trade. It gained 1.9% on Friday.

Underpinning the gains, the financial stocks .AXFJ added 0.3%. The country's "Big Four" banks rose between 0.8% and 1.5%.

"Some stocks are prone to get an extended boost from rising interest rates because of their business models — and many are in the financial sector," said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive officer at Kalkine Group said.

Prospects of the financial sector have improved this year due to an aggressive outlook for monetary policy tightening, which increases the net interest income of banks.

Tech shares AXIJ were also among the top gainers following a firmer finish by U.S. counterparts, with Xero Ltd XRO.AX and Computershare Ltd CPU.AX rising 4.5% and 1%, respectively.

Brambles BXB.AX soared as much as 13.3% and led gains on the main index after receiving an unsolicited takeover offer from European private-equity giant CVC Capital.

"I think the takeover bid would give some fresh blood in the Brambles management, which would be a positive aspect," said Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking.

Energy stocks .AXEJ ticked up despite weaker crude oil prices, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd WPL.AX and Santos Ltd STO.AX both rising more than 0.3%.

Miners .AXMM fell 0.5% and sector behemoths Rio Tinto Ltd RIO.AX and BHP Group BHP.AX were both more than 1% lower after shockingly weak economic data from China underlined the deep damage lockdowns were doing to the world's biggest metals consumer.

The data also weighed on Asian markets, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS losing early gains to stand flat.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 ended 0.1% lower at 11,157.7 points.
Reporting by Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni

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