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Australian shares end higher on U.S. Fed survey, stimulus hopes

* Victoria registers triple-digit rise in COVID-19 cases

* Miners slip; BHP falls 2.3%, most in more than 1 month

* NZ slips most in almost two weeks (Updates to close)

Sept 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended higher for a second straight session on Thursday, with financials leading gains, as an upbeat U.S. Fed survey and hopes of more stimulus boosted risk appetite.

A U.S. Federal Reserve survey showed U.S. business activity and employment increased modestly through late-August, though the sluggish and uneven growth spurred expectations for Washington to reach a deal on fresh stimulus.

“It’s a one-way train at the moment for equities, and you’ve got to trade what you see while we’re in a low-interest rate environment,” said Nick Twidale, director at Xchainge.

“I think the pattern’s set for the next few weeks but I think we might see some sharp corrections as well.”

The S&P/ASX 200 index finished 0.8% higher to close at 6,111.60, its highest in over a week.

But gains were somewhat capped as COVID-19 hot spot Victoria reported a triple-digit rise in daily cases for the first time in four days, blunting hopes for a speedy rollback of lockdowns.

Heavyweight financials finished 1.3% higher, supported by a strong showing from top lenders Westpac Banking Corp and Commonwealth Bank of Australia which rose 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively.

Healthcare stocks also finished in the black, with industry giant CSL gaining 1.3%, while ASX-listed shares of Resmed jumped 3.2%.

Miners were dragged lower by a 2.3% decline in global miner BHP Group even as iron ore futures rose. Twidale suggested an escalation in political tensions between Canberra and biggest iron ore importer, Beijing, over the last couple of weeks may be weighing on the sector.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 1.3%, its most in nearly two weeks, to end at 12,055.05.

Local shares of Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group clocked gains of 1.7% and 0.9%, respectively. (Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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