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Australia: Shares rise after RBA points to more cuts; New Zealand steady


[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose on Tuesday after the country's central bank said further policy easing was likely, although buyers largely targeted defensive sectors ahead of a two-day US Federal Reserve meeting.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4 per cent or 22.80 points to 6,553.70 by 0142 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.4 per cent on Monday.

In the minutes for its latest policy meeting, the Reserve Bank of Australia said it will likely have to cut rates further to boost the economy. The bank cut its benchmark interest rate earlier this month, driving up equities on the prospect of earning better yields.

Cues for further monetary tightening were also expected from the Fed,with US markets inching up overnight in anticipation, with its statement set to give insight into the impact of the US-China trade war.

"What was expected to be a busy week has turned into a bit of dud ahead of the FOMC as traders have taken a decidedly defensive posture," said Stephen Innes, Managing Partner at Vanguard Markets.

Healthcare stocks added 0.9 per cent on Tuesday, with CSL, the fifth largest stock on the S&P/ASX 200, rising 1.1 per cent. Medical devices maker Resmed rose 1 per cent.

Gold stocks rose 0.9 per cent, with Newcrest Mining , the country's largest gold producer, up 1 per cent. Gold miners have benefited from recent risk-aversion.

Financial stocks and miners, the country's two largest sectors, firmed 0.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

Australia's second biggest grocer, Coles Group, added 5.6 per cent and was among the biggest gainers on the ASX 200 after it unveiled a plan to cut A$1 billion in costs over the next four years.

Conglomerate Wesfarmers, which spun off Coles late 2018, rose 1.4 per cent.

New Zealand shares traded sideways, with gains in industrial and telecommunication stocks being offset by laggard consumer stocks.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.09 per cent, or 8.79 points, to 10,179.5.

Electricity retailer Meridian Energy rose 0.8 per cent, while a2 Milk fell 2.3 per cent.