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SYDNEY, April 17 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
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
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)