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Australia: Shares gain as rate cut hopes solidify; New Zealand up

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Australian shares rose on Monday, as hopes of an interest rate cut by the central bank at its October meeting firmed up following last week's dismal domestic unemployment data.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Monday, as hopes of an interest rate cut by the central bank at its October meeting firmed up following last week's dismal domestic unemployment data.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 pER CENT, or 18.9 points, to close at 6,749.70. The benchmark ended up 0.2 per cent on Friday.

Investors have their focus on the Sept 24 dinner speech by Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe, for any hints on the timing of the October policy easing, which may further shape market expectations.

Financial futures now predict a 76 per cent chance of a rate cut by the RBA to 0.75 per cent at its Oct 1 policy meeting, after the country's jobless rate worsened to a one-year high of 5.3 per cent in August. Prior to the data, the probability stood at 50-50.

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Further cementing the case, economists at National Australia Bank on Friday became the latest to join a growing pool of analysts predicting a third interest rate cut by the country's central bank in October, citing slowing economic growth and a smaller chance of fiscal support.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended up 0.4 per cent, or 43.9 points, at 10,873.33, buoyed by energy and industrial stocks.

Auckland International Airport rose almost 2 per cent and was the top gainer on the New Zealand benchmark, followed by telecommunications company Spark New Zealand which ended about 1.8 per cent higher.

REUTERS