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Australian shares end marginally higher ahead of budget

* RBA policy decision ‘non event’, already priced in - analyst

* Gold stocks close 3.2% higher

* Financials bounce back from early losses, end 0.3% higher (Updates to close)

Oct 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended slightly higher on Tuesday, after wavering between small gains and losses throughout the session, as the central bank held key rates steady ahead of the Federal budget later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.2% at 5952.7. The benchmark had gained 2.6% on Monday.

“We had our rally yesterday, so there’s not much movement today despite the big lead from the U.S.,” said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

U.S. stocks had risen sharply on Monday, after news that President Donald Trump will return to the White House from the hospital where he was being treated for COVID-19.

The Reserve Bank of Australia left its cash rate at a record low on Tuesday - in line with a Reuters poll - but hinted at further monetary easing as the country grapples with the worst contraction since the Great Depression.

Smoling says RBA’s decision was expected and already factored into the pricing, so markets viewed it as a “non event”, adding that he does not expect Wednesday’s markets to react to the budget either, set to be announced later in the day.

“Unless there’s something surprising, I really don’t anticipate much change, ” he said.

Gold stocks gained after miners Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings said they would merge to create a create a global top-10 gold miner by market value.

A rally in energy stocks after oil prices rose also lifted the benchmark. Sector heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos were among the top boosts.

Technology stocks jumped 2.3%, led by Afterpay’s 4.8% rise, while financials rebounded after early losses and closed 0.3% higher.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.6% higher at 11,975.02.

Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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