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Australia: Shares edge higher helped by financials, gold stocks; New Zealand down

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Australian shares inched up on Tuesday, as declines in the resource sector were balanced by gains among the "Big Four" banks while investors awaited a speech by the central bank governor later in the day.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares inched up on Tuesday, as declines in the resource sector were balanced by gains among the "Big Four" banks while investors awaited a speech by the central bank governor later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose nearly 0.1 per cent or 5.3 points to 6,755.00 by 0226 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.3 per cent higher on Monday.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe's speech will be the focus "mainly because of the impact it could have around the conversation on interest rate cuts next Tuesday when the RBA meets", said Stephen Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.

Financial futures are now pricing an 80 per cent chance of cut by the RBA in Oct 1 to a record low 0.75 per cent, up from a 50-50 probability before data last week showed the unemployment rate had increased to a one-year high of 5.3 per cent in August.

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"Depending on the commentary we get tonight, that could shift things a little", Mr Daghlian added.

Investors were also cautious on concerns of slowing growth with the United States and the Europe zone logging in weak economic data overnight.

The financial index, the heaviest component of the Australian benchmark, was the top gainer, rising 0.4 per cent to its highest since Feb 5, 2018.

The biggest banks all traded higher, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group gaining as much as 0.9 per cent to a 2-1/2 month high.

Gold stocks increased as much as 2.3 per cent to their highest since Sept 6, as gold prices rose to their highest in over two weeks after the weak euro zone data stoked global recession fears.

Perseus Mining advanced almost 4 per cent to a near three-week high and Gold Road Resources hit a more than one-week high.

Capping gains on the benchmark, the broader mining sector fell 0.4 per cent, hurt by lower copper prices, which tumbled to their lowest in two and a half weeks.

Heavyweight BHP Group, which has been increasing its exposure to copper, fell almost 1 per cent while diversified miner South32 shed over 3 per cent to hit a near three-week low.

The energy subindex fell 0.2 per cent as oil and gas heavyweight Woodside Petroleum's slipped 0.2 per cent. Whitehaven Coal's tumbled more than 3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down nearly 0.1 per cent or 12.62 points to 10,860.96.

Air New Zealand, which said it signed contracts to buy eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, slipped about 1 per cent.

REUTERS