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Australia, NZ: Shares rise on strong US economic data, RBA easing hopes

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rallied on Tuesday, with financials and materials leading, following the latest in a string of upbeat data that showed further strength in the US economy.

Wall Street rose overnight after US services sector activity hit a one-year high in November, with a surge in production boosting hiring.

The S&P/ASX 200 index snapped two sessions of losses to end up 0.5 per cent, or 28.26 points, at 5,428.7.

The market was also buoyed by hopes that the central bank may still be leaving the door open to the possibility of another interest rate cut.

Market voices on:

As expected, the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate unchanged at a policy meeting on Tuesday, but it sounded a note of caution on economic growth after a run of soft data pointed to a possible contraction in the third quarter.

Third-quarter GDP will be released on Wednesday morning.

Australian financial stocks ended 0.3 per cent higher in tune with the top three banks. National Australia Bank, though, fell 0.2 per cent.

The energy index rose as much as 1.7 per cent with Origin Energy leading the gains, rising nearly 3 per cent.

Miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Billiton Ltd rose 3 per cent each as commodity prices rose on a weaker dollar.

Healthcare stocks Regis Healthcare and Estia Health ltd were among the top gainers on the benchmark index New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.8 per cent or 55.7 points higher at 6,910.36.

Financials and industrials led the gains, with ANZ Banking Group Ltd and Auckland International Airport rising over 1.5 per cent each.