Australia shares rally, CBA hits all-time high
(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move) SYDNEY, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares, led by financial stocks, rallied 0.7 percent to a 21-month high when trade resumed on Tuesday after a three-day holiday weekend. Westpac Banking Corp led gains in the financial sector, rising 1.5 percent. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia jumped 1.1 percent, reaching an all-time high of A$64.28. "The major lead is in the banks," said Evan Lucas, a market strategist at IG Markets. "The lead that we have been seeing is that yield hunters are continuing to look for that quasi-bond play and that would be the main reason why we're seeing them jump in," he said. The S&P/ASX 200 index was 35 points higher at 4,870.2 at 0028 GMT. The benchmark finished up 25 points at 4,835.2 on Friday. Defensive stocks were firmer. Blood products maker CSL Ltd rallied 2.7 percent, while telecommunications provider Telstra jumped 1.1 percent to a five-year high of A$4.63. Food retailers Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd rallied 1.1 percent and 1.8 percent respectively. Insurance companies fell as floods and storms hit Queensland and New South Wales states. QBE Insurance Group Ltd lost 2.4 percent, while Insurance Australia Group Ltd dropped 1.9 percent. Global iron ore miners were mixed. BHP Billiton Ltd edged up 0.1 percent, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd fell 0.7 percent. More restocking by Chinese steelmakers and limited spot cargoes could nudge iron ore prices higher this week, although gains will be capped with buyers not keen on chasing pricey cargoes and sellers willing to wait until after the February lunar new year holiday. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 2 points to 4,202.4. STOCKS ON THE MOVE * Suncorp dropped 2.8 percent. The insurer said it has received 4,500 claims related to Queensland's floods and storms but said it was prepared for the financial impact. (0027 GMT) * Oil Search jumped 1.7 percent. The company said its production in Q4 was 1.79 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe), within its guidance range. (0028 GMT) * Sundance Resources is currently in a trading halt pending an announcement on funding commitments by Hanlong. (0028 GMT) (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Paul Tait)
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