Miners lift Australian shares, investors digest Fed's minutes

July 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares were slightly higher on Thursday, boosted by a rebound in the heavyweight mining sector after sharp declines in the prior session, while investors digested the U.S. Federal Reserve's firm hawkish stance on taming inflationary pressures.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO was up 0.4% at 6,623.30, as at 0036 GMT. It ended 0.5% lower on Tuesday.

Miners .AXMM advanced nearly 2% after a massive 5.6% drop in the previous session, as weak commodity prices led to a sharp sell-off in iron ore giants: BHP Group BHP.AX , Rio Tinto RIO.AX and Fortescue Metals Group FMG.AX .

As China iron ore futures DCIOcv1 gained 1.8% on Wednesday, the Australian mining triumvirate gained between 2% and 3% on Thursday, with Rio Tinto marking its biggest intraday jump since late April.

The Fed's June meeting minutes showed officials rallied around an outsized rate hike, justifying the 0.75-percentage-point increase as near-term inflation outlook had deteriorated since their meeting in May.

The minutes however did not explicitly mention the risk of recession, and in fact Fed officials said they thought data showed U.S. was "expanding in the current quarter", even though they acknowledged the downside risks.

Back in Australia, financials .AXFJ were slightly flat at 0.1%, with all the top lenders eking out small gains.

Energy stocks .AXEJ added 0.4%, even as Brent crude slumped to a 12-week low upon fears of a global recession, with sector major like Woodside Energy WDS.AX gaining 0.9%, while Santos Ltd STO.AX slipped as much as 2%.

Gold shares .AXGD were down 1.1%, as appeal for the precious metal dampened following a strong U.S. dollar, with Newcrest Mining NCM.AX trading flat.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 fell 0.2% to 11,123.12.

Reporting by Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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