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Australia: Shares dip as banks drag; eyes on US Fed meeting


[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended nearly flat on Tuesday, weighed by banking stocks as minutes from the central bank's recent policy meeting did not provide a clearer direction on further policy measures.

The ASX 200 index ended 0.08 per cent lower at 5,894.8, with the "Big Four" banks falling between 1.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent. Heavyweights CSL and BHP Group helped offset banks' losses, while gold stocks climbed nearly 4 per cent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will maintain its "highly accommodative settings" and will continue to consider how further policy measures could support the country's flagging economy, minutes of the September meeting showed.

"I don't think there was anything material in any of the minutes that would give any sort of direction... anything that isn't already priced into the market", said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

Leading up to the release, markets had been pricing a rate cut at the upcoming October meeting, but the highly anticipated minutes did not indicate any policy action was imminent.

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"We see a lower probability of a rate cut, given Lowe saw 'not much benefit'; but we can't rule it out," economists at UBS wrote in a note.

Smoling also said investors will turn to the US Federal Reserve's two-day meeting that starts later in the day for further directions.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.2 per cent lower at 11,770.75.


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