* Bank stocks see heavy buying after ANZ earnings surprise
* Trading volumes low in light of U.S. Fed meeting (Updates to close)
May 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended just shy of an 11-year peak on Wednesday, after a surprise earnings beat from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group pushed up risk appetite and prompted sector-wide buying.
However, trading volumes were fairly low, ahead of the conclusion of a two-day U.S. Federal Reserve meeting later in the day, as investors awaited further cues from the world’s largest economy.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.8 percent, or 50.40 points, to 6,375.90 at the close of trade, just a few points below its previous 11-year peak of 6,382.1, touched last week. The benchmark fell 0.5 percent on Tuesday.
Financials strengthened after Australia and New Zealand Banking Group clocked a 2 percent rise in its half-year profit, exceeding expectations. The stock ended about 2.8 percent higher.
The positive earnings prompted buying in other bank stocks, with majors Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac Banking Corp adding about 1.3 to 2.3 percent for the day.
The sentiment outweighed a warning from Westpac that it would take an additional hit to its half-year earnings from costs related to remediation and potential refunds to customers who had been charged fees for services not rendered.
As such, the financial subindex ended up 1.5 percent to its strongest close in nearly eight months.
Wealth manager AMP Ltd also closed about 1.8 percent higher ahead of its first-quarter cash flow report and a crucial shareholder meeting on Thursday.
Energy stocks lent support, with the subindex snapping four sessions of losses to close 0.9 percent higher.
Sector heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd added about 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, New Zealand stocks edged lower, with the index continuing to see some profit-taking after touching a record high last week.
The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed down 0.5 percent, or 47.41 points, to finish the session at 9,966.42.
Index heavyweight A2 Milk Co shed 2.2 percent, while electricity provider Meridian Energy fell 0.4 percent. (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)