* Energy, travel-related stocks lead gains
* Medical experts talk down Omicron risks
Dec 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose for a third session
on Tuesday, following a decision by the central bank to leave
interest rates on hold and as fears around the Omicron
coronavirus variant eased after experts said the new strain
would not be as dangerous as Delta.
The S&P/ASX 200 index settled 0.95% higher at
7,313.9, with energy and travel stocks leading gains. The
benchmark had closed 0.05% higher on Monday.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its cash rate at a
record low, in line with market expectations, and stuck with its
bond buying plans, but adjusted its policy statement to allow
for a possible increase before 2023.
"The RBA is stuck pushing asset bubbles and hoping it
doesn't go wrong. If the U.S. Fed moves to faster tapering next
week to prepare for multiple rate rises next year, the RBA will
have to follow or face high inflation," said Mathan
Somasundaram, chief executive officer at Deep Data Analytics.
Top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said,
in reference to the new coronavirus variant, "thus far it does
not look like there's a great degree of severity to it."
Travel and tourism stocks rebounded after medical experts
talked down the risk from the Omicron variant. Travel management
firms Flight Centre Travel Group, Corporate Travel
Management and Webjet gained between 2.8% and
5.4%, while carrier Qantas Airways added 5% in its best
session since Nov. 8.
Energy stocks climbed 2.07% after oil prices
rebounded nearly 5% overnight. Beach Energy Ltd was the
top gainer with a rise of 4.27%, followed by Oil Search Ltd
Papua New Guinea-focussed Oil Search advanced
3.53% after its A$8.8 billion ($6.23 billion) buyout by Santos
Ltd received overwhelming support from its
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was largely
unchanged at 12,609.9.
($1 = 1.4118 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu