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Australia: Shares end marginally higher; NZ down

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Australian shares closed marginally higher in cautious trade on Monday, with the benchmark index propped by financial sector firms as investors awaited global central banks to provide more stimulus for a slowing global economy.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed marginally higher in cautious trade on Monday, with the benchmark index propped by financial sector firms as investors awaited global central banks to provide more stimulus for a slowing global economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed the day's session 0.01 per cent higher at 6,648.00, following a 0.9 per cent climb on Friday.

Locked in a trade war for more than a year, China and the United States both posted weak economic data over the weekend, strengthening hopes for more monetary stimulus, and improving investors' appetite for riskier assets.

The US Fed last week indicated more rate cuts ahead, while China's central bank said it would reduce the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, to make more funds available for lending.

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The European Central Bank is expected to cut interest rates on Thursday.

Expectations of lower US and European interest rates have benefited the Australian dollar, a proxy for risk assets.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.1 per cent to close the session at 11,202.93.

New Zealand manufacturing sales volumes fell 2.7 per cent in the second quarter, compared with the previous quarter, data from Statistics New Zealand showed on Monday.

Sales volumes for dairy and meat products, the country's biggest export earners, fell 8.2 per cent in the period, the data showed.

REUTERS