Australia shares edge higher, ANZ, James Hardie cap

Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:57pm EDT

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* ASX 200 edges 0.3 pct higher, on track to jump 2.3 percent for the week

* 132 shares higher vs 59 shares lower, 9 flat (Adds analyst quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares added 0.3 percent on Friday, following Wall Street higher, though gains in the broader market were capped as ANZ Bank's earnings failed to cheer investors, while James Hardie dropped after disappointing results.

Investors sold out of ANZ Bank, which fell 0.8 percent, as the blue chip bank said a tight rein on costs, lower bad debt provisions and the strong results in Asia mean it expects full-year revenue at the lower end of the 4 percent to 5 percent growth range it previously indicated.

"ANZ's third quarter earnings (weren't) exactly a thumper as far as expectations were concerned," said Scott Schuberg, CEO at Rivkin Securities in a note to clients.

"However, if we continue to see the absence of any sharply negative results from the big players, I think this will be enough to delight investors who were otherwise exuding a cautious mood."

Among other banks, top bank by market capitalisation Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.3 percent, while National Australia Bank rose 0.4 percent. NAB is due to post its third quarter numbers on August 18.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 14.9 points to 5,563.4 by 0135 GMT.

The benchmark rose 0.6 percent on Thursday, and is on track to jump 2.3 percent for the week.

The Australian benchmark hit a six-year high of 5,644.2 points on July 31 but fell to a trough of 5,425.2 on August 8 on geopolitical concerns in Ukraine and Gaza, though some better-than-expected earnings have helped the market recover from those levels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would stand up for itself but not at the cost of confrontation with the outside world, striking a softer tone after tough rhetoric aimed at Ukraine for several months.

Blue chip stocks CSL Ltd and Telstra Corporation Ltd climbed 1 percent and 0.7 percent, continuing their run higher on the back of robust earnings while both also flagged a share buyback earlier in the week.

Other companies to deliver earnings included James Hardie Industries Ltd which slumped 7 percent after posting an 80 percent fall in fiscal first quarter net profit and revised down its full-year earnings outlook.

This sourced investor sentiment among the material space with Boral Ltd dipping 0.8 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index rose 17.39 points to a one-week high of 5,079.80.

Shares were boosted by a 3.4 percent rise in Nuplex , which kept near a one-month high of NZ$3.10 hit on Thursday, when the resins and coatings manufacturer announced full year earnings which were stronger than expected.

Shares in transport technology firm Eroad initially jumped 13 percent to NZ$3.40 on its first trading day on Friday, after listing at NZ$3.00.

Offsetting market gains was a 3 percent slide in Michael Hill, which plumbed a one-month low of NZ$1.26 after the jewellery retailer reported a 22 percent fall in annual profit.

Other losers included accounting software developer Xero , which fell 4.5 percent to a 10-month low of NZ$20.55 due to fading optimism about the company's outlook.

Guinness Peat Group extended losses, tumbling 8 percent to a 10-month low of NZ$0.57 after the New Zealand-based investment holding company, which is also listed in Britain, said earlier in the week that it was dealing with British regulators concerning deficits in its pension funds. (Editing by Eric Meijer)

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