MELBOURNE, Jan 24 Australian shares closed up
0.5 percent on Thursday, a fresh 21-month high after reversing
morning losses when a measure of growth in China's factory
sector accelerated to a two-year high in January, boosting local
It was the seventh straight daily gain for the local market
and marks an 11 percent rally from November lows.
The HSBC flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for China
rose to 51.9 in January, the highest since January 2011.
The positive read from China, Australia's top export market,
helped BHP Billiton recover from earlier losses to end
0.3 percent higher.
"Our markets have done a U-turn in afternoon trade," said
Ben Taylor, trader at CMC Markets.
"Traders view today's PMI manufacturing result as providing
further evidence that the Chinese recovery is underway and will
be maintained," he said.
The pace of growth in China should increase to 8.2 percent
this year and 8.5 percent in 2014, the International Monetary
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 22.4 points to
4,810.20, according to the latest data, the best close since May
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index inched up 0.1
percent to 4,189.9.
Top banks led gains, with Westpac Banking Corp and
National Australia Bank both up 1.3 percent to the
highest close since May 2011, ending at A$27.10 and A$27.09
"Investors see any fall in Australian growth to be met with
rate cuts which should be supportive for yield plays like the
banks," said Taylor.
"Traders are now looking for the next catalyst to drive the
markets higher. Many are pointing to continuous central banks'
support around the world, a rebounding China, improving risk in
Europe and general low inflation as drivers," he said.
The country's leading telecommunications company Telstra
Corp gained 1.1 percent to A$4.56.
Linc Energy surged 24 percent to A$2.67, a day
after it said two independent reports had confirmed it is
sitting on potentially large resources of shale oil in South
OZ Minerals Ltd slid 6.3 percent to A$6.85 after
the company posted a drop in its December quarter production.
Energy Resources of Australia rose 5.6 percent to
A$1.41 after it said agreements covering the Ranger Project Area
in its Northern Territory uranium mine were established with
Mirarr Traditional Owners, the Northern Land Council and the
Retailer Noni B plunged 14 percent to A$0.75 after
it warned first half profit would drop to between A$1.7 million
and A$1.9 million, from $2.4 million a year earlier.
(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Richard Borsuk)