May 7, 2019 / 1:51 AM / 7 months ago

Miners drive Australian shares higher; NZ climbs

* Vale SA to halt operations at Brucutu iron ore mine

* Miners rise 2 percent

* RBA rate decision expected later today

By Shreya Mariam Job

May 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Tuesday taking cues from a recovery on Wall Street and on the back of gains among iron ore miners after a court ordered a halt in operations at a Vale mine in Brazil, though investors remained cautious ahead of an interest rate decision from Reserve Bank of Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.7 percent or 35.6 points to 6,329.3 by 0120 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.8 percent on Monday.

“I think it’s a little bit of a snap back rally. Outside the resource sector there is not a huge amount of enthusiasm in the market,” said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut. “The RBA decision will be critical.”

Material stocks gained as much as 2 percent, recovering losses from the previous session with iron ore miners driving gains.

Brazilian miner Vale SA said that a court had ordered it to halt operations at its Brucutu iron ore mining complex, reversing a lower court decision that had allowed the mines activities to resume.

Shares of major iron ore miners BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals advanced 1.5 percent, 2.7 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, investors await the rate decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) scheduled to be released later on Tuesday with a slim majority of economists polled by Reuters expecting the central bank to keep rates steady.

The RBA has left policy rates at 1.50 percent since last easing in August 2016. However, poor first-quarter inflation data has caused some analysts to predict a rate cut as a measure to support the economy.

“We expect the RBA to cut the cash rate by 25 bps to 1.25 percent. Q1 saw a worrying fall in core inflation. Unemployment needs to come down further just to keep inflation from falling, while the hurdle to push inflation higher is increasingly tough,” a note from ANZ said.

The financial stocks climbed 0.7 percent as top lenders moved into the black with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp advancing 0.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Separately, the country’s retail sales for the month of March is also set to be released later today and will be closely watched with consumer spending a rising concern amid a steep downturn in the property market.

Shares of retailers Coles Group and Wesfarmers were up 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent or 55.93 points to 10,016.55.

Shares of A2 Milk Company gained 2.3 percent, while Meridian Energy logged a 1.6 percent rise.

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru

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