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Australian shares hit record high on economic growth cheer

June 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares hit a record high on Thursday, extending gains made from the country’s stronger-than-expected first-quarter economic growth data, with high commodity prices lifting the resource-heavy benchmark index further.

The ASX 200 index climbed 0.6% to 7,261.00 by 0026 GMT, after having closed 1.1% higher on Wednesday.

Sentiment was buoyant from Australia’s solid economic growth data on Wednesday that showed output had returned to pre-COVID-19 levels, while the energy and gold indexes jumped on firmer commodity prices.

The energy index climbed nearly 2% to gain most on the benchmark and to its highest since April 16, as oil prices hit a more than 1-year high on OPEC+ decision to stick with its plan to ease supply cuts through July.

Natural gas majors Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd added 2.3% each.

Financial stocks followed suit, rising 0.7%, with the “big four” banks gaining between 0.7% and 1%.

Miners added 0.7% to hit their highest in two weeks as iron ore prices jumped on hopes of easing production curbs for steel products.

Tech stocks tracked Nasdaq higher to rise 0.5%.

Gold stocks advanced 0.8% as bullion inched up, with Red 5 Ltd gaining 2.9% to be the best performer.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index traded up 0.5% to 12,446.680.

In other markets, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.6% at 29,107.57, while the S&P 500 E-minis futures were up 4.5 points, or 0.11%. (Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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