Australia shares bounce after 3-day slide, retail data supports

Wed Feb 5, 2014 8:43pm EST

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY Feb 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares regained ground on Thursday after a three-day slide as investors picked up battered stocks in the mining and financial sectors, with upbeat retail sales data lending further support.

The Big Four banks all posted gains, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia adding 1.1 percent and Westpac Banking Corp climbing 1.2 percent.

Miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd gained 0.9 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

"Shunning uninspiring leads from overseas markets, the shift in the domestic interest rate outlook which soured sentiment among domestic investors looks to have dissipated," said Niall King, sales trader at CMC Markets in a note, adding that investors were searching for value after days of selling.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.8 percent, or 40.5 points, at 5,111.5 as of 0041 GMT. The benchmark had lost 2.3 percent over the past three days and hit a seven-week closing low on Wednesday.

Data released on Thursday showed that Australian retail sales topped forecasts for a fifth straight month in December, boding well for consumer spending and lifting shares of retailers.

Consumer retail staple Wesfarmers Ltd jumped 1.8 percent, while department store operators Myer Holdings Ltd and David Jones Ltd gained 1.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Supermarket giant Woolworths Ltd climbed 1.7 percent, also after reporting a 6 percent rise in first-half sales as online sales surged.

Elsewhere, Echo Entertainment Group recovered 3.2 percent, after losing 6 percent in the prior session when the company announced its chief executive was retiring, leaving the casino operator to fend for itself in a turf war against Crown Resorts Ltd. Crown edged 0.1 percent higher.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd jumped 3.8 percent on bargain hunting, after a recent rout sparked by media reports that the company would suffer a significant half-year loss because of higher operating costs.

Sundance Energy Australia Ltd lost 4 percent to a three-week low of A$0.96. The company said earlier it expects its U.S. initial public offering of 7.75 million American Depositary Shares to be priced between $16.50 and $18.50 each. Each ADS is comprised of 20 ordinary shares

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent to 4,807.9. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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