November 29, 2018 / 6:31 AM / 6 months ago

Australian shares end at 2-wk high after Fed chair's 'dovish' comments, NZ rises

* Aussie shares rise on U.S. Fed Chairman’s dovish comments

* Metals and mining stocks boost index

* NZ gains for third consecutive session (Updates to close)

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a two-week high on Thursday, tracking a Wall Street rally, after dovish-sounding comments from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell boosted risk-sensitive assets.

Powell said on Wednesday the central bank’s policy rate is now “just below” estimates of neutral where it neither stimulates nor slows the economy, suggesting the Fed’s tightening cycle might end soon.

The move boosted Asian shares, though ongoing concerns about the upcoming meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit undermined some of the optimism.

Broad-based gains pushed the S&P/ASX 200 index 0.6 percent or 33.30 points higher to 5,758.40 at the close of trade. The benchmark edged lower on Wednesday.

The metals and mining stocks rose 1.3 percent, dominating the gains on the main index.

Rio Tinto Ltd rose 1.7 percent, after it announced approval for the $2.6 billion “intelligent” iron ore mine in Western Australia, while BHP Group gained 1.21 percent.

An overnight jump in Chinese ore futures after a three-day slide, and buoyant London copper prices, also cheered the miners.

Financial stocks ended at their highest in more than two weeks as an enquiry into financial sector misconduct held its final hearings after a year of damning revelations.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia firmed 0.5 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group strengthened 0.7 percent.

Australia’s information technology sector, followed its U.S. counterpart to rise 2.8 percent to a near two-week high.

Payment services provider Afterpay Touch Group Ltd surged 8.7 percent and was the top percentage gainer on the ASX 200.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.93 percent or 80.92 points to finish at 8,794.88, posting a third consecutive session of gains.

Consumer and industrial stocks led the gains, with mobile commerce operator Pushpay Holdings Ltd climbing 5.3 percent to a near three-week high and Sky Network Television Ltd gained 4 percent.

Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru, editing by Eric Meijer

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