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Australia: Miners lift shares before RBA decision; NZ at record high

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares were up slightly on Tuesday led by gains for heavyweight miners, although trading was subdued as many investors held back ahead of an interest rate decision by the central bank.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent or 20.70 points to 6,668.80 by 0144 GMT, after adding 0.4 per cent on Monday.

Trading volumes were at a fifth of their 30-day average as investors waited on a Reserve Bank of Australia policy review later in the day, at which it is widely expected to deliver a second rate cut to add to its easing last month.

Global markets, including Sydney, rallied on Monday after the United States and China reached a truce in their trade dispute.

Global miners BHP Group rose 1 per cent to an over eight-year high, and Rio Tinto, jumped 1.5 per cent, after iron ore prices scaled a record high on Monday. Tight supply and expectations of higher steel prices have seen increased demand for iron ore.

The mining subindex rose more than 1 per cent.

Fortescue Metals Group, the world's fourth largest miner, rallied 1.5 per cent and was at a near 11-year high.

A rate cut, which is seen putting pressure on the Australian dollar, would benefit local miners who export their goods for US dollars.

Mining contractor CIMIC Group also rose about 0.7 per cent.

Healthcare stocks were higher, with CSL, the fifth largest stock in the ASX 200, up 0.6 per cent. As CSL conducts most of its business overseas, particularly in the United States, it too stands to benefit from a weaker local currency.

Payments platform operator Afterpay Touch Group was the largest percentage gainer in the ASX 200 after it named a new chief executive.

Financial stocks edged slightly lower, with the country's big four banks losing between 0.3 per cent and 0.5 per cent.

The top lenders flagged a possible reduction in or exit from their New Zealand businesses if the country pushes ahead with plans to increase the amount of capital banks must hold.

New Zealand stocks touched a record high, driven by gains across utilities and consumer stocks.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose nearly 0.7 per cent or 67.840 points to 10,532.37.

A2 Milk, the fifth-largest stock in the index, gained 1.8 per cent as a US-China trade-truce pointed to better prospects for the company's largest market, China.

Electricity retailer Meridian Energy rose about 0.5 per cent.

REUTERS