Australian shares rose for a third straight session on Thursday, with financial stocks leading gains on expectations that central banks were done hiking rates while gold stocks climbed on higher bullion prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5% higher at 7,182.1 points to hit their highest level since August 16.

A round of soft surveys on manufacturing revived hopes that central banks were done tightening lending rates.

The interest rate clues Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is likely to give at an annual central bank summit on Friday will be keenly watched.

"I'm expecting no change from the Fed meeting. I think everything, including the Australian central bank, will be on hold going forward," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

"I can see the market really starting to throw off some of the negativity and it looks like it is set for a very large rally."

In Sydney, rate-sensitive financial stocks advanced 1.0%, with the so-called "big four" banks gaining between 0.5% and 1.4%.

The release of soft European and US flash PMIs overnight is good news for big banks, as it raised expectations of rate hikes ending, prompting a fall in yields at home and abroad, Tony Sycamore, market analyst at IG Australia, said in a note.

Gold stocks climbed 2.5% to hit their highest level since Aug. 14, tracking an uptick in bullion prices, while energy stocks jumped 0.9%.

Technology stocks surged 4.2%, tracking their Wall Street peers higher.

Heavyweight mining stocks were flat, inching up by 0.1% even as mining giants Rio Tinto and Fortescue rose 0.9% and 0.2%.

In corporate news, shares of Whitehaven Coal fell 5.1% after it forecast weaker-than-expected annual managed coal output for fiscal 2024 and said it will suspend its buy-back program.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index retreated 0.6% at 11,502.13 points. (Reporting by John Biju in Bengaluru; Editing by Janane Venkatraman)