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Australia: Shares rise on global rate cut prospects; New Zealand up

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Australian shares climbed on Tuesday as investors anticipated major central banks will ease monetary policy, and higher oil prices buoyed energy stocks.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares climbed on Tuesday as investors anticipated major central banks will ease monetary policy, and higher oil prices buoyed energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 per cent, or 20.3 points, to 6,711.50 by 0140 GMT. The benchmark lost 0.1 per cent on Monday.

Global markets await key interest rate decisions by two major central banks, with the European Central Bank expected to cut by 10 basis points on Thursday, and the US Federal Reserve expected to lower rates by at least 25-basis point a few days later.

"Once the ECB starts to move dovish then the Fed will be forced to follow," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

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Humming along to the dovish tune, a top Reserve Bank of Australia official said on Tuesday that the central bank was ready to cut rates again "if needed".

Financial stocks gained despite the country's prudential watchdog proposing tighter terms for executive pay at financial firms, underlining a push for more scrutiny in the wake of a public inquiry on widespread misconduct in the sector.

The 'Big Four' banks rose between 0.1 per cent and 0.7 per cent, with Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group each adding 0.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, energy stocks were set to gain for a third straight session as oil prices rose on concerns over possible supply disruptions in the Middle East after Iran's seizure of a British tanker last week.

Oil Search advanced 1.5 per cent, while Santos was up 0.4 per cent.

Tech stocks rose as much as 1.1 per cent, tracking Wall Street peers, as investors awaited corporate earning results from tech giants Facebook, Alphabet and Amazon this week.

WiseTech Global added 2.1 per cent, while Australia-listed Xero gained 1.5 per cent.

Iron ore miners Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group each declined 0.6 per cent, as prices of the material fell on Monday.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose marginally to 10,838.63.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk Company advanced 1.4 per cent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp gained 0.9 per cent.

REUTERS