Australia Stocks Rise Modestly Ahead Of Rate Decision

Australian stocks edged higher Tuesday morning, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1%, extending Monday's 0.9% gain ahead of key data and a central bank policy decision due later in the day. The two heavyweight sectors -- miners and financials -- were mostly higher, as BHP Billiton Ltd. rose 0.9%, Rio Tinto Ltd. added 0.6%, Arrium Ltd. advanced 1.5%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group gained 0.2%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank Ltd. improved by 0.3% each. On the downside, Woolworths Ltd. lost 3.2% after falling the previous day on the back of disappointing quarterly sales results, with J.P. Morgan cutting its price target on the shares, according to Dow Jones Newswires. J.P. Morgan also warned of risk that GrainCorp Ltd. will soon trim its earnings forecast due to a poor crop outlook, with Graincorp shares down 1.2% in early moves. Australian retail sales and trade data were due out later in the session, followed by the Reserve Bank of Australia decision, expected to result in no change to the benchmark cash rate, which has sat at 2.5% for more than a year.

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