Australia shares gain on banks' earnings optimism, Fed outlook
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Oct 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched up 0.3 percent on Wednesday morning, tracking Wall Street higher as investors bet the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its asset-purchase stimulus program at least into early next year.
The financial sector underpinned the market with Westpac Banking Corp adding 0.9 percent and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group up 0.6 percent after reporting record profits the previous day.
"With NAB and Westpac both still to report, investors will be wary of being left out of better than anticipated payouts or capital management initiatives from them as well," said Ric Spooner, market analyst at CMC Markets in a note.
The big four banks make up around 30 percent of the ASX and have had a stellar year so far with share prices pushed up by record profits and strong dividend yields.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 16.9 points to 5,432.4 by 0009 GMT, hovering at five-year highs. The benchmark fell 0.5 percent on Tuesday, but has risen eight out of the previous ten sessions on relief from the end of the U.S. fiscal standoff and better-than-expected data from China.
The market took its lead from Wall Street as the Dow and S&P 500 indexes ended at record highs after U.S. economic data supported views that the Federal Reserve would keep its stimulus intact for several months.
The Fed's two-day policy meeting ends later Wednesday, with markets widely expecting the central bank to retain its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme - a major driver of global risk assets in recent years.
Meanwhile, Transpacific Industries Group jumped 6.7 percent to 2-1/2 year highs of A$1.11 after the company announced it has refinanced A$290 million of its syndicated facilities.
Elsewhere, gold miners fell, after bullion retreated from five-week highs as investors sought to take profits ahead of Fed outcome. Newcrest Mining Ltd lost 2.8 percent while Perseus Mining Ltd slumped 10 percent.
"It feels like the market has had a reasonable run but I think a modest pull back or consolidation wouldn't be a surprise," said Rohan Walsh, investment manager at boutique fund manager Karara Capital.
Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Ltd lost 5 percent to A$8.36, erasing most of the previous session's gains. Analysts said trading in the stock has become volatile as an international bidding war for the company intensified.
Archer Daniels Midland Co said its planned A$3.0 billion (2.8 billion) acquisition of Australian grain handler GrainCorp Ltd will likely to be delayed until early next year. Shares in GrainCorp fell 1.1 percent.
In Wellington, Meridian Energy Ltd climbed 1.9 percent after the company staged a successful debut on Tuesday after New Zealand's government went to great lengths to win over investors.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent to 4,866.1 points.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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