Australian shares end higher on hopes of slower rate hikes

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 Australian shares end higher on hopes of slower rate hikes
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By Navya Mittal

Nov 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher for a second straight session on Wednesday, with mining and energy stocks leading the advance, as easing inflation raised expectations for a slower pace of interest rate hikes.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.4% higher at 7,284.2. It rose 6.1% this month in its second consecutive monthly gain.

Data showed the monthly consumer price index (CPI) rose 6.9% in the year to October, slowing from 7.3% in September. Analysts had looked for a rise to 7.4% or higher in October.

"The surprisingly slower monthly CPI, combined with a month-on-month fall in October retail sales, could give the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) a reason to consider a 'pause' to hiking cycle," UBS analysts said in a note.

Miners climbed 1.6% on Wednesday to led gains on the benchmark after iron ore prices rallied overnight on fresh China support for its struggling property developers.

Sector majors BHP and Fortescue gained 1.6% and 0.1%, respectively. Rio Tinto added 2.2% as the miner unveiled a plan to invest a further $600 million in renewable energy assets in the iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Energy stocks advanced 1.8% as crude oil prices rose over falling U.S crude inventories but weak China manufacturing data limited the gains.

Oil and gas major Woodside Energy and Santos added 0.6% and 0.4%, respectively.

In other news, Star Entertainment Group fell 0.4% as the country's financial crimes regulator began a civil lawsuit against its units, alleging non-compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 1.4% higher at 11,552.04. For the month, it gained about 1.9%. (Reporting By Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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