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Australian benchmark stock index closes above 6,000 level on budget boost

* Australian benchmark rises for third session

* All “big four” banks gain about 2%

* Energy stocks rise despite drop in oil prices (Updates to close)

Oct 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose over 1% on Wednesday, with the benchmark index settling above the 6,000 level for the first time since Sept. 3, after the government pledged to spend billions to help pull the economy out of its historic COVID-19 slump.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1.3% higher at 6,036.4, extending gains into a third session.

After market hours on Tuesday, the government announced A$17.8 billion in personal tax cuts and A$5.2 billion in new programmes to boost employment in a budget that tips the country into its deepest deficit on record.

Though not much of a surprise, the budget is definitely supportive of markets in the short- to medium-term, according to Nick Twidale, director and co-founder at brokerage X-chainge.

Investors looked past U.S. President Donald Trump calling off coronavirus relief negotiations until after the presidential election, a move which sent Wall Street down more than 1% overnight.

Though local catalysts gave Australian markets a short-term reprieve, Twidale said he expects the global perspective to become a greater factor for local markets in the next few sessions.

“Within a few days we’ll go back to looking at how markets and countries are reacting to COVID-19,” he said.

The financials sub-index closed at its highest in almost a month, with the “big four” banks adding about 2% each.

Energy stocks gained 1.4% despite a drop in oil prices, with heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Beach Energy among the top percentage gainers.

Gold stocks clawed back from steep early losses to close slightly lower, as renewed fears over an economic recovery and uncertainty around the U.S. presidential election lifted the metal.

Tech stocks added 1.2%, closing at their highest in more than a month, led by gains in Afterpay and EML Payments.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.3% higher at 12,016.15. (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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