Australia shares edge higher; Virgin soars
(Updates with closing levels, comments)
MELBOURNE Oct 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares nudged up 0.2 percent on Tuesday as investors bought into defensive sectors, though the market lacked broad direction with Wall Street closed for at least two days due to powerful storm Sandy.
Shares in Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd jumped 5.4 percent after the country's No. 2 airline said Singapore Airlines would buy a 10 percent stake for A$105 million ($108 million), helping it to vie with Qantas Airways .
A separate plan by Virgin to buy regional carrier Skywest sent the smaller airline's shares surging 57 percent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 8.8 points to close at 4,485.7, building on a gain of 0.1 percent on Monday.
Australia's leading biopharmaceutical producer, CSL Ltd , rose 0.5 percent. Phone company Telstra Corp Ltd gained 1.0 percent.
"The banks and the defensive stocks have done okay, but it is a wishy-washy performance," said F.W Holst research manager David Spry.
"Gains will be hard to sustain because earnings are under a bit of pressure in Australia and there is a feeling it will be difficult to achieve any meaningful growth this financial year," Spry said.
The broader market is down 2 percent from a 15-month high hit earlier this month.
Major banks rose, led by a 0.9 percent rise in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
CBA said at its annual general meeting on Tuesday that it expected demand for credit to remain subdued and it would retain its conservative business settings.
Shares in rural services company Elders Ltd collapsed 22 percent to A$0.19 in heavy volume about 10 times an average session, one day after saying it plans to put its main business up for sale.
Shares in casino operator Crown Ltd eased 0.5 percent. Chairman James Packer told the annual shareholders' meeting Crown was set to take advantage of growing Chinese tourism by upgrading its facilities.
U.S. stock markets will be closed for a second day on Tuesday, as Wall Street turned its attention to whether markets would be able to resume functioning on the month's final trading day on Wednesday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index lost 10 points to 3,941.3.
(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; Editing by)
- U.S. war veteran released by North Korea returns home |
- South Korea to make announcement on air zone; expansion is anticipated |
- Pro-Europe protesters gather for rally in Kiev
- Pennsylvania newlyweds "just wanted to murder someone together:" police
- Obama defends interim Iran deal, seeks to assure Israel