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Australia, NZ shares end higher as trade rhetoric dials down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Tuesday, recovering some of the ground lost in the previous session after comments from US President Donald Trump raised hopes that the United States and China will de-escalate their trade war.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5 per cent, or 31.1 points higher at 6,471.2. It lost 1.3 per cent in the previous session when new retaliatory tariffs from US and China had battered market sentiment.

Mr Trump later on Monday flagged the possibility of a trade deal with China and said he believed Beijing was sincere in its desire to reach an agreement.

Iron ore is Australia's biggest export and China its top trade partner, making miners of the steel-making material especially sensitive to developments in the trade war.

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Australian iron ore miners BHP Group, Rio Tinto Ltd and Fortescue Metals finished between 0.8 per cent and 5.3 per cent higher, after sharp losses on Monday.

The country's banking stocks, the weightiest on the benchmark, also rose 0.5 per cent. This was despite news that Australia's big banks will face potential penalties within the next six months for breaching money laundering laws.

Among the "big four" banks, Westpac Banking Corp closed flat, while the others gained between 0.4 per cent and 0.9 per cent.

High-growth tech stocks also surged 3.2 per cent, following overnight moves from tariff-sensitive Wall Street peers such as Apple Inc.

US-focused buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Touch Group was the second biggest gainer on the benchmark, up 7.8 per cent.

Medical tech firm Nanosonics topped gains, soaring 32.7 per cent to close at a record high after posting record full-year sales and stronger profit.

Meanwhile, gold stocks bucked the trend to shed 3.2 per cent, as the recovery in risk appetite led to a retreat from safe-haven assets.

The country's biggest gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd lost 1.5 per cent while Northern Star Resources lost most, droping 6.6 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark added 29.7 points or 0.3 per cent to end at 10,513.1600.

Dairy giant a2 Milk Company Ltd added 1.3 per cent while transport provider Tourism Holdings rose 5.3 per cent and was the top gainer on the index. 

REUTERS