Australia shares rally on Wall St, miners strong on metals price rally
(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY May 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares rallied 1.1 percent on Monday, buoyed by Wall Street's record highs after a surprisingly robust U.S. jobs report and as metal prices firmed, though weaker-than-expected retail sales figures trimmed gains.
Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd jumped 2.9 percent while rival Rio Tinto Ltd soared 3.1 percent as copper rose more than 6 percent on Friday. Small cap miner Mirabela Nickel Ltd surged 22.7 percent.
Financials were firmer with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 1.4 percent while National Australia Bank rose 0.5 percent. Westpac Banking Corp bucked the trend, slipping 0.1 percent.
Australian retail turnover for March fell 0.4 percent contrary to forecasts by a Reuters poll that centred on a rise of 0.2 percent on the month. Retail turnover was up 2.2 percent for the quarter.
"There's still a 50/50 call for a rate cut tomorrow following the retail sales spending figures, so the chance for a rate cut hasn't moved too much," said Steven Daghlian, market analyst at Commonwealth Securities.
Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet fell for a second straight month in April in a sign firms are still cautious on hiring despite evidence of a revival in consumer demand.
The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 53.6 points to 5,183.1 by 0217 GMT after hitting an intraday high of 5,201.3. The market last traded above 5,200 points in July 2008. The index fell 0.6 percent last week and finished flat on Friday.
"The retail spending figures that came out were worse than expected, but we did initially see the Australian market pullback a little from heights of about 1.2 percent," Daghlian said.
" If you take the quarter as a whole, it's the best start for the new year to retail spending that we've had in about 12 years, so it's still seen as a positive."
The benchmark index was trading slightly higher than the rest of the region, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.9 percent.
Oil and gas explorers were stronger after prices jumped more than $1 on Friday. Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Santos Ltd rallied 1.7 percent and 1 percent respectively. Karoon Gas Australia Ltd soared 21.8 percent.
The Dow and S&P 500 advanced to all-time closing highs on Friday, with major indexes jumping 1 percent after the unexpectedly strong April jobs report eased fears of an economic slowdown.
Growth in China's services sector slowed sharply in April to its lowest point since August 2011, a private sector survey showed on Monday, in fresh evidence that economic revival will remain modest and may be facing wider risks.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.7 percent or 34.1 points to 4,578.2.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Shares in Australia's Lynas Corp Ltd, which has a rare earth plant in Malaysia, climbed 17.4 percent to A$0.59 after the National Front coalition won re-election, fending off an opposition challenge that had unerved investors.
"There was a concern that the opposition would move fairly quickly against Lynas giving that there were a number of groups actively protesting against the plant," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
"The re-election of the government means the continuation of the current situation and it removes some of the risk from their Malaysian operations."
* Boral Ltd lost 2.4 percent to A$4.56 after the building materials maker warned that continued weakness in the domestic housing market would impact on full year results.
* Australia's GrainCorp Ltd fell 0.5 percent to A$12.73. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said on Friday that Archer Daniels Midland Co's planned A$3.0 billion ($3.1 billion) acquisition of GrainCorp should yield benefits for the U.S. agribusiness company in the coming years.
(0222 GMT) (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Kim Coghill)
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