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SYDNEY, April 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares rebounded 1.1 percent on Wednesday, with the mood bolstered by recovering risk appetite and data from the United States that reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus plan in place.
Financials and defesive stocks underpinned the market. Top lender the Commonwealth Bank of Australia rallied 1.7 percent while Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1 percent.
Telstra Ltd led the defensive sector, soaring 2.8 percent to reach a near 5-year high of A$4.82. Other gainers included consumer retail staples Woolworths Ltd up 2.4 percent and Wesfarmers 3 percent higher.
"While in broad terms it was a much better day on the market, it appears that traders are not ready to pile back into stocks within the material and energy sectors," said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets.
"Traders are still baulking at going long resource stocks in light of the commodity price downswing."
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 53.8 points to finish at 5004.6. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Tuesday.
Markets were roiled on Monday led by a rout in commodities prices as soft data from China and the United States raised concerns about the global economic recovery.
U.S. stocks jumped more than 1 percent on Tuesday, a day after their worst decline since November, as gold prices rebounded and earnings from Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson improved the outlook for first-quarter results.
Benign March inflation data, which reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus plan in place, further bolstered sentiment.
The retail sector was also firmer, led by Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd advancing 3.8 percent after the electronics and home goods retailer reported third quarter store sales rose 2 percent.
Cash gold shrugged off weakening U.S. bullion futures to jump as much as 1 percent on Wednesday as buyers snapped up gold bars, coins and nuggets after prices touched their lowest in more than two years the session before. The metal, which tumbled to $1,321.35 on Tuesday, has fallen about 18 percent so far this year after an unbroken 12-year string of gains.
Newcrest Mining Ltd inched up 0.6 percent after falling over 5 percent on Tuesday, while Regis Resources Ltd extended its losses and was off 2 percent.
The Australian market has enjoyed a bull-run, gaining some 7.7 percent so far this year on the back of a strong earnings season and receding global growth worries. The benchmark hit a high of 5,163.5 on March 12.
However, the recent run of weak global data has introduced an element of caution.
"With commodities remaining relatively unstable this is what's now dragging the market and preventing us from pushing past recent highs," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG Markets.
Global miners, hit by the recent fall in commodities prices and growth worries, underperformed. BHP Billiton slipped 0.3 percent. The global miner said its iron ore production increased by 6 percent in the March quarter and anticipated the annualised production rate approaching 200 million tonnes for the June 2013 quarter.
Fortescue Metals Group lost 0.8 percent while Rio Tinto Ltd fell 0.7 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 rallied 1.1 percent or 50.4 points to finish the session at 4,478.3. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)