Australia shares rise 0.7 pct on mine output, weak jobs spark rate cut talk
(Adds share moves, analysis, market comments) SYDNEY, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.7 percent on Thursday morning, with big miners pushing higher on better production numbers while upbeat U.S. economic data bolstered the World Bank's raised forecast for global growth. Rio Tinto Ltd gained 2.1 percent after it posted big production gains in iron ore and other minerals it sells mainly to China. BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 2.1 percent, while gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd jumped 6.9 percent on the back of strong quarterly production data released late on Wednesday. "I think this is a year when the miners, the underperformers of last year, do have a great year," said Shawn Hickman, managing director at Market Matters. The strong mining production numbers should also "help from a bottom-up perspective to hopefully overrule the macro fears from China", IG market analyst Evan Lucas said in a note to clients. The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 37.9 points to 5,283.3 by 0054 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.6 percent on Wednesday. The local market started with a positive lead from Wall Street, with the S&P 500 ending at an all-time closing high after strong earnings from Bank of America and data that offset the effect of last week's poor payroll numbers. On the local front, Australia's employment fell by 22,600 in December, raising market expectations of another cut in interest rates. "This isn't a good number. If we don't see an improvement in absolute jobs being added in February, the door is open for a cut in March," said Peter Esho, chief market analyst at Invast. Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 2.1 percent after oil prices reached a two-week high. Firmer oil prices offset investor concerns about Woodside, which just reported a 7 percent fall in revenue in 2013, slightly worse than market forecasts, with annual production in line with the company's outlook. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd jumped 3.2 percent after it said a new gas pipeline will be build in Western Australia to deliver to the company at lower cost. Australia's big banks pulled back, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia losing 0.7 percent and Westpac Banking Corp slipping 0.1 percent. "We are going to see the banks go down relatively and resources stocks go catch-up, and I think we are seeing the start of that today," Market Matters' Hickman said. Australian banks, considered to be the most expensive in the world, have produced outstanding performance in the past year, on the back of strong earnings and generous dividends. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was nearly flat, just up 1.4 points to 4,914.5. New Zealand clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson Ltd dived 15 percent after warning that its first-half profit would likely fall as much as 39 percent because of a sharp drop in December sales. It last traded down 14.1 percent at NZ$3.65. (Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang)
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