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Australia: Shares finish higher as oil rallies

[SYDNEY] Australian shares were led higher on Tuesday by strength in oil and gold prices, helping snap two consecutive losing days as many investors awaited the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's monetary policy meeting which begins later in the day.

The Fed is widely expected to keep interest rates unchanged at its two-day meeting that ends on Wednesday. The focus will be on any hints on whether it may raise rates again this year, and when it will begin paring its bond holdings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 38.53 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 5,726.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.6 per cent on Monday.

Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia pledged to curb exports from next month and OPEC called on several members to boost compliance with output cuts to help rein in oversupply and tackle flagging prices.

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Australia's energy index climbed as much as 1 per cent, with Santos Ltd, Beach Energy and Whitehaven Coal Ltd adding between 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent.

Gold stocks hit over a one-week high as gold prices rose overnight. Gold miner Newcrest Mining was one of the top gainers on Australia's main index, hitting its highest in more than three weeks.

New Zealand shares headed for their second straight day of gains, led by materials, telecoms and consumer staples.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 30.77 points, or 0.401 per cent, to finish at 7,713.06.

REUTERS

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