Financials lift Australian shares ahead of Fed rate decision
March 22 (Reuters) -Australian shares jumped 1% on Wednesday led by banking stocks, as investors awaited the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate hike decision.
The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO climbed 1.1% to 7,028.50 by 2329 GMT. The benchmark ended 0.8% higher on Tuesday.
Investors would be keenly awaiting the outcome of the Fed's monetary policy meeting due later in the day, where economists are widely expecting a 25 basis point interest rate hike, according to a Reuters Poll.
In Australia, minutes of the central bank's last policy meeting on Tuesday suggested it was considering a rate pause in April, if the upcoming retail trade and inflation data provided evidence of cooling demand.
Financials .AXFJ jumped 2%, posting their biggest intraday gain since Jan. 4, with the 'big four' lenders rising between 1.7% and 1.8%.
Miners .AXMM added 0.3%, with heavyweights BHP Group BHP.AX, Rio Tinto RIO.AX and Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AX advancing between 0.3% and 1.6%.
Energy stocks .AXEJ tracked oil prices higher to climb 3.4%, their biggest intraday jump since Oct. 20. O/R
Shares of Santos STO.AX and Woodside Energy WDS.AX jumped 1.8% and 3.2%, respectively.
Tech stocks .AXIJ tracked their Wall Street peers higher to add 0.5%. .N
ASX-listed shares of Square Inc SQ2.AX and Xero Ltd XRO.AX jumped 4% and 1%, respectively.
Bucking the trend, local gold stocks .AXGD plunged 4% and were headed for their worst day since Nov. 3, as bullion prices dropped. GOL/
Shares of Newcrest Mining NCM.AX and Northern Star Resources NST.AX slumped 3.3% and 5.2%, respectively.
Star Entertainment SGR.AX fell 0.9%. The casino operator said David Foster would become chairman to replace Ben Heap who is being sued by the country's corporate regulator, when he retires from the role on March 31.
The New Zealand benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 jumped 0.5% to 11,586.54.
Reporting by Echha Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich
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