* RBNZ hikes official cash rate by 50 basis points
* Kiwi gains after RBNZ rate decision
* Mining, financial stocks lift ASX (Updates to close)
May 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday, led by gains in heavyweight mining and financial stocks, while New Zealand equities fell after the country’s central bank raised interest rates and sharply lifted its projection for future hikes.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.4% higher at 7,155.20. The benchmark fell 0.3% on Tuesday.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised interest rates by 50 basis points to 2.0%, its fifth straight rate hike, as it seeks to check inflation and signalled the cash rate would peak at a higher level than previously forecast.
The New Zealand dollar climbed, while the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.7% lower at 11,173.37 after rising as much as 0.6% earlier.
“We expect these reactions to extend further over the next few days, given the outcome is a significant hawkish surprise,” Imre Speizer, head of NZ strategy at Westpac, said in a note.
Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 3.9%, after its full-year profit dropped.
Building material provider Fletcher Building and real estate investment company Kiwi Property fell 2.7% and 1.9%, respectively.
In Australia, heavyweight mining stocks and financial stocks led gains, rising 0.6% and 0.8%, respectively.
Gold stocks rose 2% on strong bullion prices.
Technology stocks dropped 3%, as S&P 500 and tech-focused Nasdaq ended lower overnight on concerns about rising inflation and a sell-off in social media stocks sparked by Snapchat-owner Snap Inc’s profit warning.
Software company Megaport fell 5.4%, while Australia-listed shares of Block Inc slipped 5.5%.
“We saw a reasonable broad-based rally as the market is slowly feeling better about itself and investors anticipate that the Fed won’t be able to do as many rate rises as they have conveyed to the market,” said Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking.
The minutes of the Federal Bank’s monetary policy meeting are expected later in the day. (Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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