Australia: Shares edge higher on tech, banking boost; all eyes on annual budget

Australian shares ended higher on Tuesday (Oct 25), led by gains in technology and financial stocks on hopes of the US Federal Reserve tempering down its hawkish tone, while investors awaited the country's annual budget for cues on economic outlook.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.3 per cent higher at 6,798.6, after ending up 1.5 per cent on Monday.

Australia's Labor government will unveil its first budget later in the day as economic growth slows, emphasising its spending will focus on easing the cost-of-living crisis without lighting a fire under already high inflation.

"Today's Federal Budget should provide markets with a better idea of how the economy will look like under the new government, and what the revised borrowing programme looks like," Westpac analysts said in a note.

Financials rose 1 per cent with the "Big Four" banks gaining between 0.1 and 1.3 per cent.

While there lies focus on the budget, Peter Esho, co-founder at Wealthi, said all eyes will be on the country's inflation print on Wednesday.

"Markets are expecting the quarterly trimmed mean to rise from 4.9 per cent to 5.6 per cent."

"We think the trimmed mean is showing signs that inflation expectations are gradually easing and Australia is a lot better placed relative to global peers," he added.

Tech stocks inched 0.2 per cent higher, tracking sharp overnight Wall Street gains, as signs economic softness suggested the Fed's aggressive policy is beginning to take root.

Australia-listed shares of Block climbed 1.5 per cent.

However, commodity indexes across the benchmark fell. Miners fell 1.4 per cent as iron ore futures slumped as China's peak steel demand season did not meet expectations.

Mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Frotescue fell between 1.4 and 3 per cent.

Energy stocks fell 1.6 per cent after fuel refiner Ampol missed earnings estimates, sending its shares tumbling as much as 12.2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended the session 1.1 per cent higher at 10,902.31. REUTERS

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