Australian shares near all-time high on tech gains; NZ up

* Aussie shares at highest since Nov. 1, 2007

* U.S. Fed meeting in focus

* Tech stocks top gainers on the benchmark

By Aditya Soni

July 29 (Reuters) – Australian shares neared a record peak on Monday, with technology stocks dominating the gains after U.S. peers pushed the Nasdaq and S&P 500 to all-time highs.

The S&P/ASX 200 index firmed 0.3% or 18.2 points to 6,811.6 by 0200 GMT, having dipped 0.4% on Friday. The index was just 40 points shy of an-all time high of 6,851.50.

Tech stocks surged 1.5% to their highest ever level and were the top gainers on the benchmark.

The increased buying interest in the sector came after robust earnings from U.S. peers such as Alphabet and Twitter drove a rally on Wall Street.

U.S. focused buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Touch Group Ltd climbed 4.1% to a three-week peak, while Nearmap Ltd hit its highest since July 12.

Broader risk sentiment was also helped by hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would signal the beginning of a policy easing cycle later this week.

Healthcare stocks jumped 1.1% to a record peak, with gains concentrated in CSL, the country’s fourth-largest firm by market value.

The drugmaker was trading 1.3% near a one-year high, while bionic ear maker Cochlear Ltd strengthened 0.8%.

Markets will also closely follow the first-round of Sino-U.S. trade talks since the two sides agreed to truce at the G20 meeting last month.

“Following another month of escalating tensions, agreement on practically anything will be a positive as the market will relish any sign of progress,” Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets Pte Ltd Singapore said.

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Shares in miners, which export heavily to China, also traded higher. Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto ticked up 0.4% to an almost twelve-year high.

Rio is slated to report its first-half results later this week, with analysts expecting the world’s second largest miner of iron ore to benefit from red hot prices of the steel-making commodity.

Shares of infant-formula maker Bubs Australia Ltd jumped 13.8% to their highest since May 9 after the company reported a record quarterly revenue.

Meanwhile, rare earths producer Lynas Corp Ltd slid 2.6% to a near four-week trough after posting a drop in quarterly revenue.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5% or 48.93 points to 10,856.54.

Gains were dominated by dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd which firmed 3.3% to an all-time high.

Elsewhere, local-shares of Westpac Banking Corp advanced 0.5%, supporting the rally on the index.

Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon



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