(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Jan 2 Australian shares rose 0.5 percent
on Thursday, floating to a six-week high on hopes that the
world's major economies are set for a period of linked growth in
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 26.4 points to 5,378.6 by
0053 GMT in a quiet first day of trading this year, with many
investors not yet returned from New Year's holidays.
"We're seeing for the first time now synchronised global
growth amongst the developed economies," said Martin Lakos,
division director at Macquarie Private Wealth, indicating the
main drivers of growth will be from the U.S., Europe, and Japan.
"We're talking about a 16 percent return out of the global
markets this year," Lakos said.
Putting a cap on gains, growth in China's factories slowed
slightly in December as export orders and output weakened,
official data showed. That reinforced views that while the
world's second-largest economy remains resilient, it lost some
steam in late 2013.
Blue chip stocks underpinned Thursday's gains. Top
Australian bank the Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose
0.3 percent while National Australia Bank added 0.1
Telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd
gained 0.2 percent, while retailer Woolworths Ltd
climbed 0.4 percent.
Trading was subdued with 55.5 million shares trading hands
by 0022 GMT, compared to the average daily trade of 678.7
million shares in 2013.
"The issue of low liquidity will still be prevalent and the
full trading and investment community won't be back in until
next week, so there will be an element of money managers still
using today to talk to clients," said IG's chief market
strategist, Chris Weston, in a note to clients.
Mining stocks rose as operations at key ports in the
resource-rich Pilbara region, crucial to major miners were
returning to normal after the passing of Cyclone Christine.
Heavyweight iron ore miners BHP Billiton Ltd and
Rio Tinto Ltd added 0.3 percent and 0.9 percent
Elsewhere, Buccaneer Energy Ltd slumped 17 percent
to an all-time low of A$0.019 after it struck a deal with
BlueCrest Energy Inc for the sale of its 25 percent interest in
the Cosmopolitan Project, an Alaskan oil and gas field.
New Zealand's stock exchanged was closed for a public
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)