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Australia: Shares end modestly higher on RBA's dovish tone; NZ up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed modestly higher on Tuesday, after minutes from the country's central bank meeting this month revealed a clear dovish bias, but gains on the benchmark were capped by a decline in technology stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.7 per cent to 6,814.20 at the close of trade. The main index closed 0.4 per cent lower on Monday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept rates steady at its monetary policy meeting on Nov 5, but the minutes released on Tuesday showed it came nearer to a cut than first thought. The bank left the door wide open to a further move if needed.

That was a surprise to many in the markets, which had priced in only a minor chance of a November easing. Analysts said the minutes suggested a further rate cut, likely in February but potentially as early as December.

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The RBA has cut rates three times this year, to a record low of 0.75 per cent in a bid to revive employment growth, consumer spending and inflation.

Mining stocks were best performers on Tuesday, ending the session 0.7 per cent higher at a near two-week high. The sub-index was helped by Rio Tinto which advanced almost 1 per cent, and Fortescue Metals Group which climbed 2.7 per cent.

The broader mining index was also boosted by gold-related stocks, with gold explorer Regis Resources closing 3.8 per cent higher and peer Northern Star Resources finishing 3.2 per cent up. Bullion prices inched up to a more than 1-1/2 week high as as fresh doubts about a trade deal between the United States and China resurfaced.

Healthcare stocks firmed nearly 1 per cent at close, with heavyweight drugmaker CSL Ltd rising 0.8 per cent, after falling in the previous session.

Pathology and radiology service provider Sonic Healthcare Ltd ended the session 2 per cent higher at a near three-month peak, after the Sydney-based co said it expects a FY20 Ebitda growth of 6 per cent-8 per cent from A$1,052 mln ($713.99 mln) in FY19 Ebitda.

Financial stocks ended trade marginally higher, with three of the "big four" banks in positive territory.

Bucking the trend, tech stocks fell 1.2 per cent, dragged lower by heavyweight WiseTech Global, whose shares tumbled about 8 per cent after short seller J Capital issued a critical report to coincide with the company's annual general meeting. Wisetech finished as the top loser on the Australian benchmark despite reaffirming its outlook at that meeting.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose about 0.2 per cent or 10.08 points to finish the session at 10,892.24.

Dairy company A2 Milk ended 10.3 per cent higher at a near two-month high, while communications infrastructure services provider Chorus Lts firmed about 7 per cent to close at a near three-month peak.