Australia: Shares end at 2-month high on boost from miners, banks

Australian shares closed at their highest in 2 months on Thursday (Aug 11), lifted by miners and financials, as a softer-than-expected inflation data raised bets of a less hawkish tone from the US Federal Reserve.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1.1 per cent higher at 7,071.0. The benchmark was down 0.5 per cent on Wednesday.

Australian shares joined a rally in global equities after US consumer prices in July were unchanged, compared with June, although the reading was lower than investors' expectations.

"While the market has stepped back from pricing in another 75 basis points rate hike in September.... It will take a more meaningful fall in inflation in August or another economic shock to move the Fed from the current path for the policy rate," said Kerry Craig, global market Strategist at JPMorgan.

Miners led the gains, advancing 1.5 per cent. BHP and Fortescue Metals gained 1 per cent and nearly 2 per cent, respectively.

Financials jumped 1 per cent, with three of "Big Four" banks ending higher.

Commonwealth Bank Australia extended losses, falling 0.3 per cent after it flagged on Wednesday that spiralling cost-of-living pressures had started to hit consumer confidence.

Local energy stocks added 0.5 per cent on strong overnight oil prices.

Heavyweight Santos jumped 1.9 per cent as it acquired Hunter Gas Pipeline amid a supply crunch and rising electricity prices.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.07 per cent higher at 11760.01. The country's house prices fell in July with the median price range recording its first annual fall since 2011, said the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand. REUTERS

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