Australia shares climb to fresh 6-year high in broad rise

Tue Jul 29, 2014 10:07pm EDT

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By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares added 0.6 percent on Wednesday, climbing to fresh six-year highs in broad-based gains, though volumes remained relatively subdued as investors eyed the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.

Blue-chip stocks supported the broader market, with global miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Billiton Ltd climbing 0.9 percent and 0.4 percent.

Chinese steel and iron ore futures rose to their highest in more than a week on hopes of a brightening economic outlook spurring demand.

Grocer Woolworths Ltd jumped 1.3 percent, while Australia's biggest telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd added 0.2 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 33.7 points to 5,622.1 by 0151 GMT, pushing through the 5,600 level for the first time since June 2008.

The benchmark added 0.6 percent on Tuesday and has been trading on upward trajectory since mid-July, underpinned by Wall Street moves to record highs and a brighter outlook for China, Australia's largest export market.

"In the end it's really part of a global rally, it's been underpinned by the U.S. where economic growth is seen to be improving albeit slowly, and earnings growth in Australia looks reasonable at this stage," said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual in Sydney.

Volumes were subdued, with 176 million shares traded, compared to a 5-day daily average of 454.4 million.

The banking sector reversed early losses as investors flocked back into their high dividend yields. Westpac Banking Corp edged 0.2 percent higher, while National Australia Bank added 0.3 percent. Mid-tier Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd was up 0.5 percent.

Bookmaker Tabcorp Holdings Ltd jumped 1.3 percent after saying it has reached an agreement with the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government to acquire its ACTTAB totalisator business for A$105.5 million.

Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd bounced 16.3 percent to a record high of A$3.78 after announcing a A$38.6 million capital raising to fund its Bear Head LNG project.

Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd soared 4.3 percent to an all-time high of A$3.41 after it posted a 41 percent rise in first-half net profit. The home loan insurer also declared a fully franked interim dividend of A$0.028 per share.

New Zealand stocks were a touch softer in a low key start to the session with the benchmark NZX-50 index down 2.3 points to 5,163.24, with small and medium-cap stocks providing the more significant price action.

The Fonterra Shareholders Fund, the investment fund based on the dairy giant's dividend stream, rose 2.1 percent to NZ$6.20. The co-operative has raised it forecast dividend payout even though it cut its forecast to suppliers.

National carrier Air New Zealand, which hit a five month low last week, clawed back more of its losses, rising 2.9 percent to NZ$1.98.

New market stock Metro Performance Glass Ltd had a positive first day. It traded as high as NZ$1.80, a 6 percent premium to its NZ$1.70 issue price, before settling back at NZ$1.77. (Editing by Eric Meijer)

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