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Australia: Shares supported by central bank rate cut hopes
[SYDNEY] Australia shares ended higher on Wednesday on growing expectations the central bank will cut interest rates again to shore up weak demand, while financials firmed after S&P upgraded its outlook for the "Big Four" banks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished up 0.4 per cent or 24.1 points at 6,689.80, after easing 0.1 per cent on Tuesday.
Data on Wednesday showed that consumers turned decidedly gloomier this month, a sign of further strain on an already struggling economy.
While the downbeat data added to a recent slew of disappointing economic reports, investors were hopeful the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut rates again to support a stuttering economy. Analysts also say the government will come under increasing pressure to provide more fiscal support.
Market focus will be on Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's testimony before the US Congress on Wednesday and Thursday as investors look for clues to near term US monetary policy.
Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index strengthened 1.1 per cent or 112.03 points to finish the session at a record high of 10,650.14.