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Australian, NZ shares higher as traders eye global rate cuts

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose for a fourth straight session on Friday, led by resource stocks as investors shrugged off trade war concerns and focused on the prospects of looser monetary policy at home and abroad.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index finished 1 per cent, or 60.9 points, higher at 6,443.9, having gained 0.7 per cent this week.

The Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates for the first time in three years earlier this week and other major central banks gave strong indications they were moving towards more accommodative policy as global trade risks threatened growth.

Market players now await a US jobs report later in the day for clues on the likely direction of Federal Reserve policy, after dismal data on private hiring cemented the case for easy money.

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"What we have seen overseas, particularly in the US market over the last seven days or so is that reactions to the trade issues... have taken a backseat to the very fundamental things, which is the increased chances of availability of easy money with further easing in rates," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

The outlook for global interest rates and some easing in global trade concerns supported Australia's mining stocks , which posted strong gains, led by majors BHP Group and Rio Tinto rising 2.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

Energy stocks also closed higher thanks to an extended rally in global oil prices. Woodside Petroleum chalked up 1.6 per cent.

The "big four" banks notched up between 0.4 per cent and 0.8 per cent on their fourth day after the central bank rate cut. Only two of four passed on the cuts in full to customers.

"You would have thought that they would have learnt some sort of lesson (from the Royal Commission) and passed those rate cuts on... Though it goes to underpin the old adage that you rather have the money in the bank's shares than in the deposit," added Mr McGlew.

Their shares have now recovered most of the billions they lost after facing the ire of regulatory bodies and customers alike when the sector was exposed for misconduct by a quasi-judicial inquiry dubbed the Royal Commission.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.6 per cent higher at 10,047.82. Synlait Milk rose 4 per cent and was the top gainer on the benchmark.

REUTERS