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Australia: Shares gain as RBA signals stimulus boost

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Australian shares rose on Wednesday after the central bank governor struck an optimistic note about the country's economy, though trade remained subdued as lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac weighed on the index.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Wednesday after the central bank governor struck an optimistic note about the country's economy, though trade remained subdued as lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac weighed on the index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.14 per cent at 6,597.40 by 2335 GMT.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe struck an optimistic note about economic growth, saying the board was still prepared to boost monetary stimulus, if needed. He added that growth in both September and December quarters was expected to be "solidly positive".

Data on third-quarter gross domestic product due later in the day is likely to show a rebound in the Australian economy - a 2.5 per cent growth in the September quarter from a 7 per cent contraction in the three months ended June.

Among gainers, miners were the biggest boost to the benchmark, with global iron ore miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto jumping nearly 2 per cent.

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Healthcare sector rose 0.8 per cent, with biotechnology firm Mesoblast soaring as much as 18.6 per cent on getting fast-track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration for its therapy product, Remestemcel-L, to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Financials weighed on the index, with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank shedding 1.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

The country's third-largest bank Westpac fell up to 0.7 per cent after the lender said it would sell its general insurance arm to German insurer Allianz for A$725 million (S$715.8 million).

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.24 per cent to 12,760.01.

REUTERS

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