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Australia shares end higher on Sino-US trade talks; NZ edges up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended higher on Tuesday, tracking an extended rally on Wall Street that was fuelled by hopes that Sino-US trade talks in Beijing will succeed in ending a damaging trade war.

Investors' optimism also stemmed from strong US jobs data and comments by Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell that he would be patient and flexible with policy decisions this year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 per cent or 39.20 points to 5,722.40 at the close of trade. The benchmark had gained over 1 per cent on Monday.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross predicted on Monday that both sides could reach a trade deal that "we can live with" as dozens of officials from both countries resumed talks in a bid to end their trade dispute.

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Energy stocks tacked on 0.7 per cent at close to touch an over one-month high, with sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd up 0.7 per cent and Origin Energy Ltd firming 2.8 per cent.

The sector posted its fourth straight session of gains, as oil prices rallied on trade talk hopes, while the start of Opec-led supply cuts also tightened energy markets.

Among top boosts to the benchmark was the financial sector which ended at a more than one-month high.

Lenders Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank Ltd rose 1.5 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Healthcare stocks closed at a near-two month high as weakness in the Aussie dollar lent support, with heavyweight CSL Ltd up 1.5 per cent and Sigma Healthcare Ltd rising 6.6 per cent.

Australian healthcare firms, which conduct a bulk of their business outside the country, benefit from a weaker local dollar.

Meanwhile, gold stocks plummeted as a recent recovery in risk-sentiment dented the appeal of gold miners. St Barbara Ltd slipped 4.8 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.17 per cent or 15.11 points to finish the session at 8,821.150.

Fletcher Building Ltd rose 1.6 per cent while dairy processor Synlait Milk Ltd advanced 1.1 per cent.

REUTERS