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Australia shares gain as markets bank on U.S. stimulus hopes

* Mesoblast hits near one-month high

* NZ-listed Pushpay tracks best day since July

Jan 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares advanced on Tuesday as investors clung to hopes of imminent fiscal stimulus from the United States, even as rising global coronavirus cases kept risk sentiment in check.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 0.2% to 6,697.2 points by 2342 GMT, recouping some of the 0.9% loss it incurred in the previous session.

Markets are betting a U.S. government under President-elect Joe Biden along with a Democrat-controlled Senate will result in more stimulus measures being passed swiftly to support economic growth.

Financial stocks led gains on the Australian benchmark, helped by the ‘Big Four’ lenders which added roughly 0.7% each.

The energy sub-index rallied for a second straight session, despite lower oil prices. Shares of Santos Ltd were up 2.1% and Oil Search gained 1.9%.

Investors, however, remained cautious of risks from growing virus cases. A Reuters tally showed worldwide coronavirus cases topped 90 million on Monday.

Global stocks retreated from record highs as a result, while Wall Street’s main indexes eased overnight amid fears that a move to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump might delay stimulus measures.

Mesoblast surged as much as 11% after releasing positive additional data from a phase-three trial of its chronic heart failure drug.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 651 while 581 declined as a 1.1-to-1 ratio favoured advancers. There were 81 new highs and 55 new lows.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 0.7% to 13,191.1 points.

Electronic payments platform Pushpay outperformed, jumping as much as 8.1% after raising its full-year earnings forecast for the second time in two months. (Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by David Gregorio)

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