Australia shares up 0.9 pct, led by miners and banks
(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move) Dec 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.9 percent on Friday morning, with top miners supported by rebounding iron ore prices and banks recovering from losses the previous day, as investors became more confident now that a series of economic data this week is out of the way. "I wonder with a number of national data hurdles cleared, if those investors who've been buying dividend returns are back in the market today," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. Australia's gross domestic product rose 0.5 percent in the third quarter, roughly in line with forecasts though the smallest rise since early 2011, while employment data beat expectations for a second month in November, with the jobless rate surprising everyone with a drop to 5.2 percent. "It looks like investors are showing more confidence this morning," McCarthy added. Top global miner BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 0.9 percent and rival Rio Tinto Ltd added 0.7 percent. Gold miner Newcrest jumped 1.7 percent as gold rose on short-covering. McCarthy said miners were mainly supported by optimism about Chinese economic growth, as China's new leaders were likely to stick with the 2012 growth target of 7.5 percent when charting a course for next year. "One of the reasons for the gains is better news we've seen from China and expectations the economy there has stabilised and growth has improved modestly," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 42.1 points to 4,551.4 by 0100 GMT. The benchmark slipped 0.3 percent on Thursday. The Australian market also took a positive lead from Europe, said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer at IG Markets, after the European Central Bank (ECB) discussed negative deposit rates at its meeting on Thursday. "The big move overnight was that the ECB is considering negative deposit rates, which could be really quite good for other assets as well," Weston said. The major banks all advanced, led by a 1.1 rise in National Bank of Australia led. The nation's biggest lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, rose almost 1.0 percent. Retailers rose ahead of the Christmas season, led by department store David Jones Ltd, which gained 1.2 percent. Wesfarmers Ltd, owner of supermarket chain Coles, also added 1.2 percent. Among defensive stocks, blood products maker CSL Ltd jumped 2.9 percent and telecommunications company Telstra Corp Ltd added 0.6 percent. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to 4,044.7 in early trade. STOCKS ON THE MOVE * Myer Holdings Ltd rose 1.2 percent, despite saying at its annual general meeting that a challenging retail and economic environment is continuing both in Australia and internationally. (0053 GMT) (Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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