(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, Jan 21 Australian shares were trading
flat on Monday, with the gold sector up and National Australia
Bank Ltd rising after a media report of interest in its
British unit although the market was seen consolidating after
last week's rally to a 20-month high.
National Australia Bank climbed 1.6 percent to $26.78, a
three-month high, after a report that Spain's Banco Santander SA
is considering a 2 billion pound ($3.2 billion) bid for
its British business.
In the gold sector, Newcrest Mining Ltd rose 2.3
percent while Regis Resources Ltd was up 2.6 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.3 points higher at
4,771.5 as of 0028 GMT. The index ended 1.3 percent higher last
week, the biggest weekly gain in seven weeks.
Insurers were strong, with Suncorp rising 0.3
"I think things are pretty quiet at the moment partly due to
the fact that it's a public holiday in the U.S. tonight. You're
probably not going to see a huge amount of movement coming
through," said Steve Daghlian, market analyst at Commonwealth
"When it comes to economic news, there's nothing really to
drive markets today in Australia or in the region, really."
Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd slipped 0.3 percent
while rival Rio Tinto Ltd inched up 0.2 percent.
Defensives were weak, with blood products maker CSL Ltd
dropping 1 percent. Australia's No.1 telecommunications
provider Telstra Corp Ltd slipped 0.1 percent and
national food retailer Wesfarmers Ltd fell 0.2 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.6
percent to 4,190.7.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* QBE Insurance Group Ltd jumped 2.6 percent to
A$12.06 after announcing it is considering cutting 700 jobs as
part of cost cutting measures.
* Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd climbed 2.9 percent to
A$0.36. The company announced plans for the development of a
$2.2 billion LNG export facility at Lake Charles, Louisiana, by
the company's wholly owned U.S. subisdiary, Magnolia LNG.
* Oz Minerals Ltd climbed 4.3 percent to A$7.62
after it increased its mineral-resource estimate by 43 percent
at its Carrapateena deposit in South Australia. The copper and
gold mining company also made a new discovery at Khamsin, 10
kilmotres from the Carrapateena site.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Edmund Klamann)