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Australia shares hit near 2-month high as banks shine

10/12/2020 | 08:57pm

* China September trade data awaited

* New Zealand's benchmark index at record high

* Australian financial stocks hit two-month peak

* Coal miners drop after reports China blocking Aussie exports

Oct 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares hit a near two-month high on Tuesday, led by banking and technology stocks, as expectations that the United States would soon pass a coronavirus relief package lifted global equity markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1% to 6,193 by 0005 GMT, after closing 0.5% higher on Monday.

In New Zealand, the main S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.8% to hit an all-time high of 12,454.57.

Overnight, all three major U.S. stock indexes closed sharply higher after optimism was sparked by the Trump administration's call to pass a leaner coronavirus relief bill as negotiations on a broader package ran into resistance.

Market participants are now waiting for China's monthly export data due later in the day for further direction.

A Reuters poll showed exports likely rose for a fourth straight month in September as the world's second-biggest economy and Australia's top trade partner stays on the path to economic recovery.

Australian financial stocks climbed as much as 2.6% on Tuesday to hit a two-month high, with the "Big Four" banks adding between 1.5% and 3%.

IT stocks firmed 1.9% and were on track to post a seventh session of gains, taking cues from a tech rally in the United States.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Ltd rose 4.4% to a record high and led the sub-index higher.

Meanwhile, coal producers fell sharply on reports China was blocking shipments of the commodity from Australia.

Whitehaven Coal slid 5.3% and was the biggest loser on the benchmark, while New Hope Corp dropped 5.6%.

Australia-listed shares of real estate developer Unibail Rodamco SE jumped 6.8% to top the benchmark index, after the company entered an agreement to sell an office building for 620 million Euros ($732.41 million).

In New Zealand, local shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd added 4.3% to lead gains, followed by Argosy Property Ltd's 2.8% rise.

($1 = 0.8465 euros) (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

© Reuters 2020
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