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Australian shares jump after Powell signals slowdown in rate hikes

Australian shares rallied on Thursday, tracking overnight Wall Street gains after the U.S. Federal Reserve chairman said the central bank could slow its pace of interest rate hikes as soon as December.

The S&P/ASX 200 index XJO jumped 1.2% to 7,373.80 by 2358 GMT after closing 0.4% higher on Wednesday.

Wall Street ended sharply higher on Wednesday as Fed Chair Jerome Powell's comments were a relief for investors who had feared more hawkishness.

In Australia, miners XMM jumped 2.5%, even as Dalian iron ore future closed lower overnight on data showing a contraction in China factory activity.

Index heavyweights Rio Tinto RIO, BHP Group BHP and Fortescue Metals Group FMG gained between 2.2% and 2.8%.

Gold stocks XGD soared 4.4%, making them the top percentage gainers on the bourse, as gold prices rose over Powell's comments.

Newcrest Mining NCM and Northern Star Resources NST were up 4.3% and 5.3%, respectively.

Financials XFJ gained about 1%, with the "big four" banks up between 0.7% and 1%.

Health XHJ and tech stocks XIJ advanced 0.3% and 1.4%, respectively.

Energy XEJ was the only sector trading in negative territory, even as oil prices settled higher overnight on signs of tighter supply.

Woodside Energy WDS dipped 1.2%, while Santos STO gained 0.7%.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index NZ50G rose 0.6% to 11,623.25.

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