July 30, 2020 / 6:47 AM / 9 days ago

Australia shares close higher on Fed pledge, tech stocks shine

(Updates to close)

By Arundhati Dutta

July 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed higher on Thursday as investors cheered the Federal Reserve's assertion it would use its "full range of tools" to support the virus-stricken U.S. economy, with added lift from tech stocks ahead of a batch of key U.S. earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.74% higher at 6,051.1, snapping two straight sessions of falls.

Fed policymakers reiterated a pledge to keep interest rates near-zero for as long as it takes to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but warned that the "path of the economy will depend significantly on the course of the virus".

"The fact that the U.S. Federal Reserve had some pretty dovish comments gave investors a bit of confidence that there is going to be that support, even though we continue to see large cases of COVID in Australia," said James Tao, a market analyst at Commsec.

Australia reported a record spike in fresh COVID-19 cases with at least 13 deaths and more than 700 new infections mainly in Victoria state.

"We've got U.S. futures trading lower at the moment, so we could see U.S. markets giving back some recent gains... it will probably lead to a softer start to Aussie shares tomorrow," Tao said.

However, he said "it was one of those situations where you can't look too far ahead with much certainty."

Most major sub-indexes closed higher, with gold stocks the sole drag after bullion prices eased.

Tech stocks led the charge with a gain of 2.4%, marking their best session in more than a week, after Facebook , Apple and Alphabet's Google closed higher overnight ahead of their earnings.

Among top gainers, Afterpay Ltd and WiseTech Global rose 1.6% and 5.9%, respectively.

Energy stocks closed 1% higher, helped by heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd .

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.8% to 11,692.02, with top gainers Mainfreight Ltd and A2 Milk Co rising nearly 3% each. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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