Australia shares race to 1-month highs on strong US jobs data

Thu Jul 3, 2014 10:34pm EDT

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By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose to one-month highs on Friday, driven by gains in most major sector as investors cheered brisk jobs growth in the United States and another record night on Wall Street.

Wall Street's holiday-shortened session ended with multiple records on Thursday, with the Dow topping 17,000 for the first time after the June jobs report came in much stronger than expected.

Investors continued to scoop up top-tier banking stocks, attracted by their high dividend yields of between 4.7 percent to 5.8 percent each. National Australia Bank climbed 1.1 percent, Westpac Banking Corp added 0.7 percent, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia tacked on 0.5 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 33.2 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,527.0 by 0227 GMT, its third day of consecutive gains.

The benchmark climbed 1.2 percent on Thursday and is set to book gains of 1.5 percent for the week, its third consecutive week in the black as investors have swept back into the market at the start of the new financial year.

"In terms of the longer term, we need to see either a big structural change in the domestic economy, or see global developing economies recover markedly before seeing the ASX replicate the returns of our developed offshore peers," said Tim Radford, global investment manager at Rivkin Securities in a note.

The resources sector underpinned the market as LME copper surged to a session high of $7,187.50 a tonne, while benchmark 62 percent grade iron ore for immediate delivery to China .IO62-CNI=SI rose to $96.50 a tonne.

BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 1.1 percent to 1-month highs of A$37.63, Rio Tinto Ltd added 0.3 percent to A$62.62, its highest since mid-May, and Iluka Resources Ltd jumped 1.2 percent to 1-month highs of A$8.71.

Among defensives, top telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd jumped 1 percent.

Lynas Corp soared 5.6 percent after saying it expects to reach its initial output rate target by December at the latest, which would shore up its shaky cash position.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index was largely flat at 5,167.87 in early trade.

Losses in gold explorer OceanaGold, which fell 2.0 percent on the back of a slide in global gold prices, were offset by a 1.8 percent rise in New Zealand Refining .

NZ Refining was boosted after the company said record-high consumption of natural gas in the last two months would lift its refining margins. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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