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SYDNEY, Dec 10 Australian shares rose 0.4
percent on Monday to a fresh seven-week high, led by mining and
banking stocks as stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs growth and
firm economic data from China bolstered the local market.
Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd rallied 1.6 percent,
while rival BHP Billiton Ltd was up 0.5 percent. Banks
were firmer, headed by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
, up 0.6 percent.
Some defensives were also tracking gains, with
telecommunications giant Telstra adding 0.6 percent and
food retailer Wesfarmers 0.7 percent. Both stocks were
at a four-year high.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 17 points to
4,568.6 by 0025 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.9 percent on Friday.
"We had some really good economic data coming out from
China," said Juliana Roadley, market analyst at Commonwealth
Securities, "It solidified the call that China is managing
itself a lot better than people thought."
"Over the last few years you had the Chinese government
pulling back on growth and trying to control things so that it
didn't over-boil. Now it looks like all that good work has been
China's factory output and retail sales growth have risen to
to eight-months highs. Government figures on Sunday said
industrial output rose 10.1 percent in November from a year
earlier and industrial exports growth lept to a 10-month peak.
U.S. companies kept up their slow but steady hiring pace in
November, where the unemployment rate fell to a near four-year
low of 7.7 percent, defying predictions that Superstorm Sandy
would deal a big blow to the labor market.
"This is an encouraging development for the Australian
economy," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
"The improvement in China's economy together with
better-than-expected employment growth in the U.S. reinforce the
probability that world economies can grow at moderate levels
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was down 0.3
percent, or 11 points to 4,030.6.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Shares in radio station owner Southern Cross Austereo
fell 4.5 percent amid a backlash and cancelled
advertising after the death of a nurse following a prank call to
the hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)