(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, Jan 29 Australian shares, led by
financial stocks, rallied 0.7 percent to a 21-month high when
trade resumed on Tuesday after a three-day holiday weekend.
Westpac Banking Corp led gains in the financial
sector, rising 1.5 percent. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia
jumped 1.1 percent, reaching an all-time high of
"The major lead is in the banks," said Evan Lucas, a market
strategist at IG Markets.
"The lead that we have been seeing is that yield hunters are
continuing to look for that quasi-bond play and that would be
the main reason why we're seeing them jump in," he said.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was 35 points higher at
4,870.2 at 0028 GMT. The benchmark finished up 25 points at
4,835.2 on Friday.
Defensive stocks were firmer. Blood products maker CSL Ltd
rallied 2.7 percent, while telecommunications provider
Telstra jumped 1.1 percent to a five-year high of
Food retailers Woolworths Ltd and Wesfarmers Ltd
rallied 1.1 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.
Insurance companies fell as floods and storms hit Queensland
and New South Wales states. QBE Insurance Group Ltd
lost 2.4 percent, while Insurance Australia Group Ltd
dropped 1.9 percent.
Global iron ore miners were mixed. BHP Billiton Ltd
edged up 0.1 percent, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd fell
More restocking by Chinese steelmakers and limited spot
cargoes could nudge iron ore prices higher this week, although
gains will be capped with buyers not keen on chasing pricey
cargoes and sellers willing to wait until after the February
lunar new year holiday.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 2
points to 4,202.4.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Suncorp dropped 2.8 percent. The insurer said it
has received 4,500 claims related to Queensland's floods and
storms but said it was prepared for the financial impact.
* Oil Search jumped 1.7 percent. The company said
its production in Q4 was 1.79 million barrels of oil equivalent
(mmboe), within its guidance range.
* Sundance Resources is currently in a trading halt
pending an announcement on funding commitments by Hanlong.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Paul Tait)