Australia shares up 0.4 pct on firmer metal prices; Boart Longyear plunges
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Aug 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.4 percent on Monday morning, with financials and miners supporting the market on the back of gains in regional bourses and higher commodities prices.
Bullion miners rose as gold added almost 2 percent, hitting its highest price in more than two months near $1,400 an ounce. Newcrest Mining Ltd jumped 6.9 percent while St. Barbara Ltd surged 14.6 percent.
Big-cap global miner Rio Tinto Ltd added 0.3 percent.
Corporate earnings had largely met market expectations so far, with many companies showing signs of improvement in their outlooks in the year ahead, said Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie Private Wealth.
"We have seen the bottom of the earnings cycle, so we think things are going to start improving from now," he said. "Share prices are starting to reflect that better outlook for 2014 and 2015."
Australia's big four banks, which have mostly enjoyed stellar earnings, all pushed higher. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 0.6 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group climbed 0.7 percent.
Boart Longyear, however, dived 7.2 percent to a 6-1/2 weeks low of A$0.52, after the drilling services concern posted a net loss in the first half and said it was experiencing its worst downturn in four years.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 20.4 points to 5,143.8 by 0135 GMT. The market advanced 1 percent on Friday.
The benchmark has bounced back from a trough of 4,632 points hit on June 25 but has hovered at the 5,100 point level over recent weeks as investors remained cautious over the Federal Reserve's stimulus tapering timetable.
"We still think the markets are overemphasising their concerns on tapering. Tapering is likely to be put in place if the US economy is in good shape," Lakos said.
The uncertainty over the Fed's stimulus, which has supported riskier assets in recent years, has roiled global markets in the past three months.
Defensives were trading higher. Australia's biggest phone company Telstra Corp Ltd added 0.5 percent and biotechnology company CSL Ltd jumped 1.6 percent.
U.S. stocks rose in light trading on Friday, while regional share markets were also putting up a positive performance on Monday morning.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.4 percent or 19.1 points to 4,543.3.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong and Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)