Australia shares near 4-mth highs, risk appetite improves on Syria news
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares climbed 0.5 percent to near four-month highs on Wednesday after Wall Street rose overnight as geopolitical tensions eased when Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons, but a modest fall in gold capped gains.
The push higher was driven by financials with Westpac Banking Corp up 0.4 percent while National Australia Bank added 1 percent. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia edged 0.3 percent higher.
The Big Four banks have had a stellar year so far as record profits and high dividend yields have driven their share price up an average of 25 percent, outperforming the broader market, which is up 12.4 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 24.1 points to 5,225.3 by 0138 GMT, its highest point since May 20. The benchmark rose 0.4 percent on Tuesday.
Analysts said the new developments in Syria reduced risk for financial markets as Syria accepted a Russian proposal to give up its chemical weapons to win a reprieve from U.S. military strikes.
"Risk appetite has improved," said Tim Radford, global analyst at Rivkin Securities in a note to clients.
"It could continue improving, as investors stop worrying about Syria and next week's FOMC meeting amid an absence of important economic news in the near-term."
Elsewhere defensives also posted gains. Top telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd rose 0.5 percent while mass-market retailer Wesfarmers Ltd added 0.3 percent.
Gold miners fell after gold posted a loss of 1.5 percent overnight, paring broader gains. Newcrest Mining Ltd lost 3.2 percent while Regis Resources Ltd dropped 3.8 percent.
The benchmark is testing a year-to-date high of 5,249.6 points hit on May 15 as investors bet the newly-elected conservative Coalition government would restore stability to the market.
"Some policies will have benefits, if the new government is able to repeal the carbon tax there will be some impacts across industries such as the energy sector and the utilities sector," said Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie Bank.
"Their desire to remove red and green tape will help the Australian economy generally so it's more broad based in that respect."
Triton Minerals Ltd jumped 7.1 percent to one-month highs of A$0.06 after the company said it has identified several high grade graphite intersections at its Cobra Plains project.
Metals of Africa plunged 30.8 percent to A$0.09 after announcing a capital raising of $2.5 million before costs, and at a discounted price of A$0.10 per share.
Investor sentiment was buoyed by a survey showing a measure of Australian consumer confidence jumped to a 33-month peak in September, and on Wall Street rising overnight, with the S&P 500 index advancing for its longest stretch since early July.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1 percent or 6.1 points to 4,621.6.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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