Australian shares ended higher for a second straight session on Friday, led by financial and real estate stocks, while investors awaited key U.S. jobs data and the domestic central bank's monetary policy decision for more clues on the interest rate path.

The S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.6% higher at 7,629.0 points. The benchmark rose 0.2% on Thursday, and logged its biggest weekly gain since March 29.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will likely hold its key policy rate for a fourth straight meeting on May 7 and at least until end-September, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

"RBA has rates substantially lower than the Federal Reserve. If RBA cuts before Fed in weak growth and weak commodities, AUD/USD is likely to devalue and raise inflation." said Mathan Somasundaram, CEO of Deep Data Analytics.

We expect the RBA to stay hawkish but remain on hold for longer, and if inflation starts to pick up in 2024, then the central bank will be on pause for even longer, he added.

Meanwhile, investors await U.S. job data, due later in the day, for further clarity on the Fed's interest rate outlook.


In Sydney, real estate led sectoral gains, rising 1.6%. The sub-index rose 3.2% this week, snapping a four-week losing streak.

Shares of property developers Charter Hall and Goodman Group advanced 0.6% and 2.7%, respectively.

High-weightage financials rose 0.3% on the day and logged a second straight week of gains. However, shares of Macquarie Group, the country's largest investment bank, dipped 2.2% after reporting a 32% drop in full-year profit on Thursday.

Among other sectoral gainers, heavyweight miners and energy stocks rose 0.1% and 0.6%, respectively, while technology stocks tracked U.S. peers, ending 1.2% higher.

In contrast, gold stocks dropped 1.7%, with shares of St Barbara, Evolution Mining each down 7.7% and 5.6%.

The New Zealand benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.5% to 11,938.08 points, notching its second consecutive week of gains. (Reporting by Roshan Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sonia Cheema)