Australia shares edge higher on CSL, investors await earnings

Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:53pm EDT

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY Aug 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.1 percent on Tuesday, buoyed by a better-than-expected earnings season so far, with CSL shares underpinning the market with banks and miners lending some support.

The market has bounced back from a trough of 4,632.3 points hit on June 25, but worries about slowing growth in China and uncertainty about the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus programme have seen the index pull back from the 5,100 level reached in early August.

"The reporting season is driving the market at the moment, rather than overseas leads, and mostly they're exceeding expectations," said Michael Heffernan, senior client adviser and economist at broker Lonsec.

Analysts said earnings form major companies have been relatively close to expectations so far, but the market will continue to monitor reports from bluechips including Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Wesfarmers Ltd which are all due to report later this week, for cues on domestic growth.

Blood products maker CSL Ltd climbed 2.1 percent as analysts said investors were expecting a strong result and were positioning themselves ahead of the earnings report due on Wednesday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 6.8 points to 5,115.4 by 0216 GMT, pushing towards near 3-month highs. The benchmark rose 1.1 percent on Monday.

The mining sector also underpinned the market, supported by Chinese steel futures, which stood at their highest since late April and on gold prices trading near three-week highs.

BHP Billiton Ltd was trading flat, while Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.8 percent. Gold miner Regis Resources Ltd rallied 4 percent.

Alacer Gold Corp soared 6 percent to A$2.66, a two-week high, supported by a rise in gold prices, and after the company announced a leadership change and said the sales process for its Australian assets is continuing and discussions with a number of interested parties are well-advanced.

Global manufacturing company Bradken Ltd soared 6.5 percent to A$5.58, a three-month high, after the company reported a fall on 33.4 percent in earnings with a net profit of A$66.9 million in the year to June 30, but its outlook for 2014 is upbeat and announced a fully-franked final dividend of A$0.18.

Australian business confidence took a hit last month as firms reported an intensifying squeeze on profits, a survey found on Tuesday, with weakness in sectors from finance to property overshadowing a solid improvement in conditions for mining and retail.

Financials pared early gains. Top lender the Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.4 percent while National Australia Bank edged 0.2 percent higher.

"There's a bit of anticipation about the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's report tomorrow," Heffernan said.

Stockland Corp Ltd dropped 2.2 percent after Australia's second-largest property group, reported on Tuesday a 79 percent fall in full-year net profit and said the recovery in the country's housing market was likely to be modest and uneven.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was trading flat at 4,522.8. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)