September 24, 2019 / 2:45 AM / 2 months ago

Australia shares edge higher helped by financials, gold stocks; NZ down

* Investors await RBA governor’s speech for policy clues

* Markets cautious on weak global data

* Higher bullion prices help gold stocks

By Nikhil Subba

Sept 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched up on Tuesday, as declines in the resource sector were balanced by gains among the “Big Four” banks while investors awaited a speech by the central bank governor later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose nearly 0.1% or 5.3 points to 6,755.00 by 0226 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.3% higher on Monday.

Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe’s speech will be the focus “mainly because of the impact it could have around the conversation on interest rate cuts next Tuesday when the RBA meets”, said Stephen Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.

Financial futures are now pricing an 80% chance of cut by the RBA in Oct. 1 to a record low 0.75%, up from a 50-50 probability before data last week showed the unemployment rate had increased to a one-year high of 5.3% in August.

“Depending on the commentary we get tonight, that could shift things a little”, Daghlian added.

Investors were also cautious on concerns of slowing growth with the United States and the Europe zone logging in weak economic data overnight.

The financial index, the heaviest component of the Australian benchmark, was the top gainer, rising 0.4% to its highest since Feb. 5, 2018.

The biggest banks all traded higher, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group gaining as much as 0.9% to a 2-1/2 month high.

Gold stocks increased as much as 2.3% to their highest since Sept. 6, as gold prices rose to their highest in over two weeks after the weak euro zone data stoked global recession fears.

Perseus Mining advanced almost 4% to a near three-week high and Gold Road Resources hit a more than one-week high.

Capping gains on the benchmark, the broader mining sector fell 0.4%, hurt by lower copper prices, which tumbled to their lowest in two and a half weeks.

Heavyweight BHP Group, which has been increasing its exposure to copper, fell almost 1% while diversified miner South32 shed over 3% to hit a near three-week low.

The energy subindex fell 0.2% as oil and gas heavyweight Woodside Petroleum’s slipped 0.2% slip Whitehaven Coal’s tumbled more than 3%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down nearly 0.1% or 12.62 points to 10,860.96.

Air New Zealand Ltd, which said it signed contracts to buy eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, slipped about 1%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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