Australia shares rally, banks lead gains

Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:32pm EST

(Updates to open)
    SYDNEY, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares rallied 0.5
percent in early trade on Monday, led by banking stocks, while
big miners were mainly softer as copper prices inched lower
after a boost last week from firm Chinese trade data.
    The banking sector was firm, with the Commonwealth Bank of
Australia leading gains, up 0.7 percent. Global miner
BHP Billiton fell 0.6 percent and Fortescue Metals
 was off 0.7 percent.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index was 20.8 points higher to
4,730.3 by 2318 GMT. The index fell 0.3 percent last week,
snapping seven straight weeks of gains.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.2
percent to 4,141.3.

 (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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