Australia shares rise with mining, tech in lead

(Updates to close)

By Soumyajit Saha

July 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed on Thursday, buoyed by miners as Fortescue Metals reported record quarterly iron ore shipments, while Iress led tech stocks higher after saying it rejected two takeover bids.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO closed 0.52% higher at 7,417.4, after Wednesday's 0.7% drop.

Fortescue shares FMG.AX jumped nearly 3%, helping the mining subindex .AXMM scale a record high, after the world's fourth-largest iron ore miner narrowly beat its full-year estimate for iron ore shipments.

Larger peers BHP Group BHP.AX and Rio Tinto RIO.AX climbed 1.6% and 1.5%, respectively.

"Rio Tinto handing back around $9 bln in total dividends yesterday is probably a taste of things to come in terms of what Fortescue and BHP are going to provide for their shareholders as well," said Henry Jennings, a senior analyst at financial consultancy Marcus Today.

Tech stocks .AXIJ jumped 2.9% to hit a three-week peak, boosted by a more than 16% surge in Iress Ltd IRE.AX after the software provider rejected two bids from private equity firm EQT. Iress was also the top gainer on the benchmark index.

Gold stocks .AXGD were higher, helped by bullion prices as the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman struck a dovish tone after a policy meeting.

Australian Pharmaceutical Industries API.AX hit a 21-month high after the pharmacy chain rejected a A$680 mln ($501.70 mln) bid from retail conglomerate Wesfarmers WES.AX .

Meanwhile, the country's biggest city of Sydney reported its highest daily count of fresh COVID-19 cases as residents remained under lockdown.

A Reuters poll showed the Australian central bank will likely reverse a decision to trim its bond buying programme, faced with the economic impact of virus-led restrictions.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 rose more than 1%, boosted by healthcare and industrial stocks.
Reporting by Soumyajit Saha and Yamini C S in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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