* S&P/ASX200 up 0.3 percent in subdued trade
* Banks underpin moves higher, but gains capped by miners on
iron ore drop
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong
SYDNEY, April 22 Australian shares rose 0.5
percent on Tuesday morning, steered by modest gains on Wall
Street and interest for banking stocks, though volumes were
light in an abbreviated trading week as the Easter holiday leads
to Anzac day on Friday.
Blue-chip banks Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
and Westpac Banking Corp added 0.8 percent and
0.7 percent. Mid-tier Bank of Queensland Ltd advanced
Miners were hit after Chinese steel rebar futures dropped
for a fifth day on Monday on concerns that seasonal demand from
the world's top consumer of the alloy would not be strong enough
to soak up hefty supply. Index heavyweight Rio Tinto Ltd
lost 0.8 percent, while OZ Minerals Ltd
dropped 0.9 percent. BHP Billiton Ltd slipped 0.1
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced for its fourth
consecutive session of gains, up 27.1 points at 5,481.3 by 0152
GMT, in subdued trade. The benchmark rose 0.6 percent last
Thursday. Markets were closed on Friday and Monday for Easter.
The benchmark touched a near 6-year high of 5,503.5 on April
10, helped by upbeat economic data including a March jobs report
which handily beat expectations for a second month.
"Not surprisingly fears of a large stock market correction
have subsided as stocks drift back to all-time highs," said Tim
Radford, global investment manager at Rivkin Securities in a
note to clients, adding that investors will focus on U.S.
company earnings results in the absence of local macro events.
U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Monday in subdued trading
as investors showed hesitation in the wake of a strong rally
last week and before a slew of key earnings releases this week.
Elsewhere, defensive were higher with consumer retail staple
Wesfarmers Ltd and blood-products maker CSL Ltd
each adding 0.5 percent.
Some of the smaller caps were also enjoying a strong
morning. Metals X Ltd soared 6.3 percent to two-week
highs of A$0.20 after reaching an agreement for a royalty
restructure at Higginsville Gold Operations with Morgan Stanley
Astron Ltd rocketed nearly 60 percent to A$0.35,
its highest since May 2012, after entering into a deal with the
China Machinery Engineering Corp for supply and installation of
equipment for the Donald Mineral Sands Project.
Meanwhile, Australia's Crown Resorts Ltd is set to
bid for a $2 billion casino complex in Las Vegas, according to
media reports, underscoring the Melbourne-based casino
operator's ambition to expand to more markets.
Shares in Crown were down 0.5 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1
percent or 7.6 points to 5,095.8.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)