* Financials boost benchmark
* Miners supported by higher iron ore prices
* Investors hope ECB will spark wider easing
By Nikhil Subba
Sept 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose along with others on Thursday as investors cheered gestures of goodwill in the bruising U.S.-China trade war and hoped that the European Central Bank later in the day will kick off a wave of global policy easing.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.3% to 6,659.40 by 0249 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.4% higher on Wednesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to delay an additional hike in tariffs on Chinese goods due in October by two weeks, after China announced tariff exemptions for a basket of U.S. goods.
“Any glimpse of peace in the US-China trade war can be explained as a positive for equities, including the banks,” said Marc Kennis, principal of Pitt Street Research.
On Thursday, ECB policymakers are widely expected to cut rates and announce additional monetary stimulus.
Financial stocks, the heaviest constituents of the Australian benchmark, advanced nearly 1% to a six-week peak.
The “Big Four” banks were all trading higher, with the largest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia advancing as much as 1% to a 5-1/2-week peak.
Technology and healthcare stocks rose almost 1% each. Logistics software maker WiseTech Global climbing nearly 2%, while heavyweight drugmaker CSL Ltd climbed nearly 1%.
Miners received a boost from a rise in iron ore prices, pushing the industry index 0.3% higher.
The world’s largest miner BHP Group rose as much as 0.8% to its highest since Aug. 14, while Rio Tinto climbed to its highest level since Aug. 5.
Major diversified miner South32 Ltd, however, shed as much as 1.4% as the company’s stock was trading ex-dividend.
All major sectors were up with the exception of energy stocks, which slipped 0.5%.
Whitehaven Coal Ltd tumbled as much as 2.6%, and oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum fell about 1%.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched 0.2% higher to 10,943.63, boosted by telecom and financial stocks.
Spark New Zealand gained 2.5%, while New Zealand shares of Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1.5%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)