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Australia: Shares jump as Fed official boosts rate cut bets
[SYDNEY] Australian shares had their best day in over four weeks on Friday as remarks from a top Federal Reserve official virtually confirmed there will be a US rate cut later this month.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8 per cent or 51.20 points to 6,700.30 at the close, and managed to narrowly finish the week in the black despite losing 0.4 per cent on Thursday.
New York Fed President John Williams on Thursday emphasised the importance of acting quickly to arrest any weakness in the US economy and said policymakers cannot afford to keep their "powder dry" until economic disaster strikes.
The dovish remarks were cheered by investors who have been betting on the world's most powerful central bank to start cutting rates at the July 30-31 meeting. Markets are fully priced for a 25-basis-point (bp) cut, while bets of a 50-bp reduction has also increased substantially from last week.
Financials, the biggest sector on the benchmark, firmed to their highest since July 5. The country's "Big Four" banks advanced 0.9 per cent to 2.2 per cent.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index tacked on 0.1 per cent or 12.06 points to finish the session at a record close of 10,753.15. The benchmark recorded its sixth consecutive week of gains.