* ASX hits a two-month high
* Miners lead the gains
* House prices in NZ fell in July; first annual fall since
Aug 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at their highest
in two months on Thursday, lifted by miners and financials, as a
softer-than-expected inflation data raised bets of a less
hawkish tone from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1.1% higher at 7,071.0.
The benchmark was down 0.5% on Wednesday.
Australian shares joined a rally in global equities after
U.S consumer prices in July were unchanged, compared with June,
although the reading was lower than investors' expectations.
"While the market has stepped back from pricing in another
75 basis points rate hike in September .... It will take a more
meaningful fall in inflation in August or another economic shock
to move the Fed from the current path for the policy rate " said
Kerry Craig, global market Strategist at J.P Morgan.
Miners led the gains, advancing 1.5%. BHP
and Fortescue Metals gained 1% and nearly 2%,
Financials jumped 1%, with three of "Big Four" banks
Commonwealth Bank Australia extended losses,
falling 0.3% after it flagged on Wednesday that spiralling
cost-of-living pressures had started to hit consumer confidence.
Local energy stocks added 0.5% on strong overnight
Heavyweight Santos jumped 1.9% as it acquired
Hunter Gas Pipeline amid a supply crunch and rising electricity
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed
0.07% higher at 11760.01. The country's house prices fell in
July with the median price range recording its first annual fall
since 2011, said the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand.
(Reporting By Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)