(Updates to opening levels)
SYDNEY, Jan 7 Australian shares rallied 0.5
percent on Monday, led by banking stocks, as investor sentiment
was buoyed by U.S. data showing a steady pace of jobs growth and
brisk expansion in the services sector.
Banks all rose, headed by a 0.7 percent gain for the
Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 24.7 points higher at
4,748.5 by 2313 GMT. It fell 16.9 points on Friday after
reaching 19-month highs earlier in the week.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index inched up 0.3
percent or 11.4 points to 4,086.5.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Richard Pullin)