* S&P/ASX 200 up 0.2 pct, near highest since June 2008
* Goodman Fielder surges on takeover proposal
* Banks ANZ, Westpac trading at record-highs
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong
SYDNEY, April 28 Australian shares clawed 0.2
percent higher on Monday as gains in banks kept the market
afloat, but trading was choppy as declines in U.S. stocks and
the deepening crisis in Ukraine made investors cautious.
Goodman Fielder Ltd soared 17 percent to become the
top percentage gainer after the food firm received a A$1.3
billion takeover proposal from Singapore's Wilmar International
Ltd and Hong Kong's First Pacific Co Ltd.
As of 0132 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was up 8.1
points at 5,539.1, hovering near a six-year high and gaining for
the seventh straight session. The benchmark gained 0.2 percent
last Thursday; markets were closed on Friday for Anzac Day.
"The real question now will be whether the improvement that
we've seen in U.S. data will continue because that seems to be
something that has lifted the market up on thin volumes," said
Damien Boey, equity strategist at Credit Suisse.
"We think it's probably having a breather, it's getting
close to the target that we've set anyway at 5,600."
Other traders said Ukraine had again become a point of
contention, capping broader gains, though investors were eyeing
the Federal Reserve's decision on tapering and a U.S. jobs
report on Friday.
Pro-Russian rebels paraded European monitors they are
holding in eastern Ukraine on Sunday, freeing one but saying
they had no plans to release another seven as the United States
and Europe prepared new sanctions against Moscow.
Banks stayed strong with Australian and New Zealand Banking
Group adding 0.5 percent and Westpac Banking Corp
gaining 0.3 percent. Both stocks were trading at
all-time highs, underpinned by high dividend yields.
Goodman Fielder rocketed 17.3 percent to A$0.65, its highest
point since early February, on the takeover proposal
Bullion producers Newcrest Mining Ltd and Regis
Resources Ltd climbed 4.8 percent and 1.8 percent,
respectively, after gold prices rose on safe-haven demand due to
worries about the Ukraine crisis.
But index heavyweight miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP
Billiton Ltd both lost 0.4 percent.
Acrux tumbled 23.1 percent to A$1.25, its lowest
since September 2009, after the drug delivery business issued an
investor update saying it may miss its next milestone payment as
concerns in the United States of health risks when taking
testosterone products have affected sales.
Elsewhere, Spotless Group, a facilities management company
owned by private equity firm Pacific Equity Partners, said it
plans to raise around A$1 billion in an initial public
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.6
percent to 5,125.0.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)