Australian shares lifted by financials, easing Middle East conflict fears – Markets

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Australian shares extended gains on Tuesday, as gains in heavyweight financials overshadowed a drop in miners due to lower commodity prices, and easing fears of a major escalation in the Middle East conflict.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark index closed 0.5% higher at 7,683.5 points. The benchmark closed 1.1% higher on Monday.

Asian shares also gained, taking cues from Wall Street.

“The easing of anxiety in the global market as geopolitical tensions subside has helped traders in the Australian stock market regain their confidence ahead of upcoming crucial data releases,” said Hebe Chen, market analyst at IG Markets.

That includes inflation data for March, due on Wednesday, with the reading expected to have remained steady at 3.4% on a year-on-year basis.

Any upside surprise would reinforce expectations that the Reserve Bank of Australia will keep interest rates unchanged for the rest of 2024, Chen said.

Rate-sensitive financials added 1.1% to close at a one-week high.

Westpac Banking ended 0.9% higher despite flagging a hit to its half-year profit due to items related to unrealised fair value gains and losses on its economic hedges.

Miners, financials lift Aussie shares, inflation data eyed

Tracking their U.S. counterparts, tech stocks advanced 1.7% to a one-week high.

Miners declined 0.5% as iron ore prices pulled back on mixed signals from top consumer China.

While Fortescue and Rio Tinto lost 0.8% and 0.2% respectively, top miner BHP Group bucked the weakness to close 0.2% higher.

Gold stocks slid 3.4%, the most in two months, tracking bullion prices plummeting to a more than two-week low.

Among the top losers on the benchmark, Brambles slumped 6.3%, the most in nearly two years, after the logistics company reported a fall in third-quarter group volumes.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4% to 11,803.28 points.

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