Australia shares rally 1.3 pct to one-week high

Wed Nov 21, 2012 8:28pm EST

MELBOURNE, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares rebounded
1.3 percent to a one-week high on Thursday as investors embraced
risk assets after the declaration of a ceasefire on the Gaza
strip, and as expectations for a cut to official interest rates
in coming weeks rise.
    The local market has not gained more than 1 percent in a
single session since Oct. 2, when the central bank last lowered
interest rates to stimulate the non-mining parts of Australia's
economy. 
    This week, policy makers said "further easing may be
appropriate in the period ahead.".
    "It alleviates stress," said Macquarie Equities division
director Lucinda Chan, adding that another rate cut in early
December could kick start spending and borrowing and boost
Christmas activity.
    Top miners and banks climbed as investors wait for HSBC
Flash China PMI data due around 0145 GMT, which will give an
indication of manufacturing activity in Australia's biggest
export market.
    "Some people have been buying the dips, and some people not,
but today it looks like we're all chasing everything. There's
still some caution, Europe is still out there, but the first
half of next year could be a bit more positive," said Chan.
    The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 57 points at
4,426.2 by 0105 GMT. The index, which last closed above 4,400 on
Nov. 12, fell 0.4 percent on Wednesday, breaking two days of
gains on concern over the U.S. economy and Greece.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.8
percent to 4,000.8, a one-month high.
    Markets gained as a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's
Hamas rulers took hold after eight days of conflict
.
    "That really calmed markets. As long as that region comes to
a truce as they said they would ... the market becomes a bit
more comfortable," said Chan.
    
    STOCKS ON THE MOVE:
    * Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rallied 6.6 percent to
a 13-month high of NZ$2.60 after it raised earnings guidance.
 It later eased to be up 4.5 percent at A42.55.
    0104 GMT
    
    * Goodman Fielder rose 7.8 percent to a 6-month
high of A$0.625 after the food and ingredients company said it
would review its dividend policy at the half year and aimed to
cut its cost base by A$100 million ($103 million) by 2015. The
stock had slumped as low as A$0.372 in January. The stock was
later up 1.7 percent at A$0.59.
    0103 GMT 
    
    * Oil and gas producer Santos rose 1.7 percent to
A$11.12 after it said it expects to lift its oil and gas
production by around 4 percent in 2013.
    0102 GMT
    
    * St Barbara Ltd fell 3.8 percent after it lowered
gold production forecasts.
    0102 GMT
    

 (Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
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