REFILE-Australia shares rise 0.5 pct, up for fifth session

Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:43pm EDT

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* S&P/ASX200 up 0.5 pct to six-year high

* Lifted by banks, consumer stocks; miners lag

SYDNEY, April 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.5 percent on Wednesday morning, supported by buying in banks and consumer stocks, as a surprisingly low inflation report lessened the risk of a rise in interest rates and sent the local dollar sliding.

The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced for its fifth consecutive session of gains, up 27.9 points at 5,507.2 by 0213 GMT. It reached a new six-year high of 5,521.4 in the morning.

Trading was subdued in a abbreviated by the Easter holiday and Anzac Day on Friday, with investors taking direction from the inflation report and China's manufacturing data.

Data showed consumer price inflation rose by 0.6 percent in the quarter through March, well below expectations.

China's manufacturing downturn eased slightly in April as declines in new orders and output slowed, a preliminary survey showed on Wednesday, though factory activity showed an overall contraction for the fourth straight month.

The Australian market tracked gains on Wall Street as a host of solid earnings reports, along with strength in the healthcare sector, helped lift the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to a sixth straight advance.

Both Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose to record highs, up 1.1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.

Supermarket chain Woolworths Ltd also rose 1.1 percent to a record high in the morning.

Miners lagged the broader market, with bluechips BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd both flat.

"They are lagging. Iron ore is a big focus for us, it's such a big part of our exports. They look pretty weak at the moment," said Simon Twiss, a dealer at Arnhem Investment Management.

Newcrest Mining Ltd climbed 2.4 percent after the gold miner reported a 11 percent fall in its March quarter gold production but maintained its full-year guidance.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent to 5,136.9.

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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