(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, April 3 Australian shares posted slender
gains on Thursday morning, supported by the S&P 500 index
closing at yet another record high and an uptick in resource
stocks on the back of rising metals prices.
Weakness in banking stocks, which has had a stellar run
recently, capped the broader market. Investors were also
watching out for the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn
Stevens' speech at a luncheon later in the day.
Resources stocks were supported as copper rose to its
highest in more than three weeks after a powerful earthquake off
the coast of top miner Chile triggered a tsunami, raising
concerns about supply. BHP Billiton Ltd added 0.3
percent, Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.2 percent, and Western
Areas Ltd climbed 1.2 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index tacked on 0.2 percent, or 9.7
points, to 5,413.0 by 0117 GMT.
The Australian market is trading some 50 odd points below
the 5-1/2 year high of 5,462.3 points hit on March 7 as
geopolitical tension in Ukraine and worries about slowing growth
in China have dampened investor sentiment.
"We've had a few goes at breaking through - there's no
reason that it can't," said Simon Twiss, a dealer at Arnhem
"What will it take? Maybe some strength in the iron ore and
some strength in the miners. That's been what has been holding
us back for most of this year."
Banks were trading lower, with Westpac Banking Corp
off 0.4 percent and National Australia Bank Ltd down
0.8 percent. NAB, the country's fourth largest bank by market
capitalisation, announced he surprise retirement of chief
executive Cameron Clyne, replacing him with the head of the
group's New Zealand operations.
Retailers were modestly higher despite data for February
showing nationwide retail sales turnover up just 0.2 percent
on-month. Department store operator Myer
Holdings Ltd added 0.4 percent and rival David Jones
Ltd gained 1.2 percent.
Dicker Data Ltd soared 10.5 percent to all-time
highs of A$1.79, extending its run higher after the company
announced the completion of its acquisition of Express Data
Holdings Pty Ltd earlier this week.
Lonestar Resources climbed 6.7 percent to A$0.32,
its highest point since June 2009 on solid demand for its
offering of $220 million senior unsecured notes to U.S. based
Shares in Goodman Fielder Ltd rebounded 5.3 percent
after tumbling in the previous session following a profit
warning from the food company.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index was flat at
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)