Australia shares post modest gains on Wall St, hover at 5-yr highs
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Oct 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained 0.3 percent on Friday to hover at five-year highs, lifted by financial and material stocks after Wall Street rose overnight on continued stimulus hopes.
Financials underpinned the market with Westpac Banking Corp adding 0.3 percent and National Australia Bank rising 0.5 percent. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd climbed 1.4 percent.
The banking sector has had a stellar year with share prices buoyed by strong dividend yields and record profits.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 18.4 points to 5,391.3 by 0005 GMT, near a five-year high of 5,402.4 hit earlier in the week. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Thursday and is on track to gain 1.3 percent for the week, its third consecutive week of gains.
St Barbara Ltd and Perseus Mining Ltd jumped 5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, after gold rose 1 percent overnight, breaking above $1,350 an ounce for the first time in more than a month. Newcrest Mining Ltd, the world's No. 3 gold miner, climbed 1.4 percent.
U.S. stocks resumed their move up as economic data underscored views that U.S. monetary stimulus will be in place for the foreseeable future and earnings offered some upbeat news.
"I think risk appetite is certainly there," said Kara Ordway, market maker at City Index, adding that U.S. data next week including retail sales, jobs numbers and consumer confidence will have a bearing on the local market.
"Next week may be the turning point in where we see either the 'top' start to occur, or we'll push through these highs that we're seeing traded."
Oil and gas explorers rose after U.S. oil futures recouped losses in choppy trade overnight. Woodside Petroleum rose 0.9 percent and Santos Ltd added 1.9 percent.
Whitehaven Coal Ltd jumped 3.2 percent after the company entered into talks with lenders about restructuring a A$1.2 billion debt facility due to delays in building its key growth project, Maules Creek.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Company Holdings Ltd (WCB) rose more than 3 percent to a record high of A$8.45 after Canada's Saputo Inc raised its takeover offer for the company.
Wealth management company AMP Ltd dropped 4.9 percent after the company said it expects to revise its group insurance business which will impact fourth-quarter and FY 2013 operating results.
Devine Ltd slumped 28 percent to a seven-week low of A$0.95 after the company said it expects to report an underlying loss before tax of approximately $15 million for the six months ending Dec. 31.
New Zealand retirement village owner and operator Metlifecare Ltd rose as much as 9.8 percent to a 5-1/2 year high of NZ$4.15 after its biggest shareholder, Australian investor FKP Property Group Ltd, sold most of its 37.7 pct stake to utilities investor Infratil and the government-owned New Zealand Superannuation Fund.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to 4,860.6 points. (Reporting by Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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