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Mild inflation data helps Australia shares snap 2-day loss

* Banks, energy stocks lead gains on Aussie benchmark

* Losses in gold, iron ore miners limit gains on ASX

* NZX50 rose 0.2%

April 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares snapped a two-day losing streak to close higher on Wednesday as mild quarterly data showed a paucity of inflation and doused investor concerns over a sooner-than-expected interest rate hike.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.44% to close trade at 7,064.7 points, with strength in financials and energy stocks pushing the benchmark near a 14-month high.

Australian Bureau of Statistics reported lower-than-expected inflation for the March quarter. The consumer price index rose a modest 0.6% over the first three months of the year, short of the 0.9% consensus forecast.

“We have got record-low core inflation this quarter, which has eased investors’ nerves and will keep the RBA dovish as well,” said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

“The weak inflation numbers mean the RBA gets to keep the rates lower for longer, which will be good for the market and the economy.”

Among the so-called “Big Four” banks, National Australia Bank led the gains for the financial sub-index, climbing as much as 1.6% to help the sub-index close 1.1% higher.

Australia’s biggest lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp climbed as much as 1.4% each.

ASX 200 Energy Index rose 1.1%, taking cues from oil prices that edged higher on Tuesday, after OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), Russia and their allies agreed to raise the output slightly from May 1.

Oil and gas explorators Oil Search Ltd and Viva Energy Group Ltd led gains on the sub-index, climbing 1.2% and 1.9%, respectively.

Viva Energy expanded gains from the previous session after the company said it expects $15 million in government aid for refinery in the first quarter.

Gold miners and iron ore miners skidded 4.4% and 1.3%, respectively, as bullion prices fell to a one-week low and Chinese iron ore futures retreated from record highs on Wednesday.

Gold miner Ramelius Resources Ltd eased 9.2% and emerged as the worst performer on the local bourse.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.2% to 12,646.1 points.

Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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