Aug 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares hit a more than
two-month high on Thursday, boosted by banking and mining
stocks, a day after signs of sharply decelerating U.S. inflation
raised hopes the Federal Reserve will become less aggressive on
interest rate hikes.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.9% to 7,056.20 by
0036 GMT, its highest level since June 9. The benchmark closed
0.5% lower on Wednesday.
In other key markets, Japan's Nikkei fell 0.7% to
27,819.33, while S&P 500 E-minis futures inched up 0.2%.
Data on Wednesday showed that U.S. consumer prices were
unchanged in July, prompting bets that the Fed will likely hike
rates at a slower pace than previously expected.
In Australia, financials advanced 0.9%. The
country's four largest banks added between 0.6% and 1.3%.
Miners climbed 1% even as iron ore prices fell
overnight due to uncertainty over demand prospects in top steel
Among heavyweights, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals
gained 1.1%, each, while rival Rio Tinto
tumbled 3.2% on trading ex-dividend.
Technology stocks tracked their Wall Street
counterparts higher to rise 2.2%. The sub-index was on track to
mark its best say since Aug. 4.
Software maker Xero and WiseTech Global
were up 2.6% and 3.3%, respectively.
Wealth manager AMP Ltd retreated 2.6%, following a
drop of nearly a quarter in its half-year profit.
James Hardie Industries advanced 2.1%, after the
Australian building materials giant said it was in the final
stages of selecting a new chief executive officer.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose
0.6% to 11,821.52.
The country's house prices fell in July with the median
price recording its first annual fall since 2011, the Real
Estate Institute of New Zealand said.
(Reporting by Upasana Singh; Editing by Rashmi Aich)