Australia shares edge up on China, U.S. data; Ten Network soars

Fri Nov 2, 2012 2:34am EDT

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SYDNEY Nov 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched up 0.1 percent on Friday, led by miners rallying on strong metal prices and positive data from top consumer China, but gains were capped by lingering worries over corporate earnings.

Investors were also cautious ahead of U.S. nonfarm payrolls for October due for release later on Friday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 2.5 points to 4,460.1, according to the latest data. On the week the benchmark was 0.3 percent lower, pulled down by Thursday's 1.3 percent drop, the biggest one-day percentage loss since late July.

Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 1.8 percent, while Rio Tinto Ltd jumped 2.0 percent, after top iron ore consumer China posted an improved PMI data on Thursday.

Television broadcaster Ten Network Holdings Ltd soared 9.3 percent, after it said that it had completed the long-anticipated sale of its Eye Corp outdoor advertising unit. Meanwhile fund manager Perpetual Ltd said it had sold about 3 percent of Ten's shares.

"From the PMI yesterday again we're seeing further evidence of Asian growth stabilising, and U.S. numbers were strong. It's clear investments are picking back up again in the U.S," said Chris Weston, institutional dealer at IG Markets.

But analysts said corporate earnings remained a worry.

"Local company earnings as well as the international company earnings into the next year maybe don't follow as expected by the market in some sense," Akshay Chopra, an investment analyst at Karara Capital, said.

Top lender National Australian Bank Ltd slipped 0.6 percent, retreating for the third day since Wednesday when it reported a drop in cash profits for the first time in three years.

Other major banks were also weaker, except Commonwealth Bank of Australia which inched up 0.2 percent.

Qantas Airways, the country's struggling flagship airline, said it plans to focus on paying down debt after curbing capital spending as part of a turnaround plan, pushing its shares 0.4 percent higher.[ID: nL3E8M12XJ]

Australia's largest independent coal miner Whitehaven Coal was down 0.7 percent, after its shareholders voted on Thursday to keep the company's board intact, refusing to endorse major shareholder Nathan Tinkler's move to oust the chairman and some directors.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.5 percent, or 17.8 points to 3,914.1. (Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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