Australia shares rise, led by banks and defensive stocks

Wed Jan 16, 2013 12:20am EST

(Updates to close)
    SYDNEY, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares rallied 0.5
percent on Wednesday led by banks and defensive stocks after
Wall Street posted modest gains on stronger-than-expected retail
    The defensives sector helped lead the index higher, with
blood products maker CSL Ltd surging 3.5 percent.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index was 21.8 points higher to
4,738.4, hovering at 20-month highs, according to latest data.
On Tuesday, the index slipped 0.1 percent to 4,716.6.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index finished flat,
down 1.7 points to 4,169.2.

 (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Borsuk)
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