* S&P/ASX 200 trading at highest since June 2008
* Retailers extend gains on David Jones acquisition news
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong
SYDNEY, April 10 Australian shares rose to a
near six-year high on Thursday as a rally on Wall Street and an
upbeat local jobs report buoyed investor optimism.
Australian employment rose by a solid 18,100 in March to
handily beat expectations for a second month, while the jobless
rate took a surprise dive to 5.8 percent.
The Big Four banks underpinned the market for a second
session. Westpac Banking Corp added 0.8 percent,
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.7
percent and Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 0.4
The S&P/ASX 200 index were up 0.4 percent or 22.2
points to 5,486.0 at 0206 GMT after touching an intraday high of
5,500.0, its highest point since June 2008. The benchmark jumped
1 percent on Wednesday, having recovered from a low of 5,288.5
touched on March 20, as China took modest steps to stimulate its
economy and investors piled into cheaper stocks.
"Comments within the Fed minutes on easing interest rate
concerns has increased investor confidence and allowed
yesterday's growth in the market to continue," Chay Flack,
equities dealer at CMC Markets Stockbroking, said in a note to
U.S. stocks rallied on Wednesday after minutes from the
Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting suggested that officials
were not as eager to tighten policy as some investors believed.
Retailers continued their run higher, spurred by news South
African retailer Woolworths Holdings Ltd is set to buy
struggling Australian department store operator David Jones
for $2 billion.
"Yesterday's takeover offer for David Jones sent a clear
message that there is fundamental value in the Australian market
and it's likely there are numerous opportunities for
international companies to invest within Australia," Flack said.
David Jones Ltd added 0.4 percent, Woolworths Ltd
climbed 1.2 percent and Wesfarmers Ltd rose
0.8 percent. Electronics and entertainment retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd
jumped 2 percent.
Elsewhere, Ten Network Holdings pushed 2.7 percent
higher after the broadcaster reported a smaller half-year loss,
saying it would target "non-traditional" advertisers as it tries
to turn itself around in an uncertain market.
Transurban Group gained 1.3 percent to A$7.37, its
highest point since 2007, after reporting its toll revenue had
increased by 12.9 percent to A$221.7 million for the March
Austal Ltd leaped 4.8 percent after the company
received a contract to design and construct two high-speed
ferries from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, valued at about
Neon Energy surged 24 percent after agreeing to the
sale of its Californian assets for $27 million.
Red Fork Energy Ltd rocketed 28.1 percent after
entering into a farm-out agreement with Blue Quail Ltd, enabling
Red Fork to participate in testing of conventional oil and gas
targets, according to the company.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 1 percent
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)