* Shares boosted by blue-chip stocks in finance, mining
* Retail sector slumps on multiple profit downgrades
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, June 10 Australian shares
inched 0.3 percent higher on Monday, underpinned by blue-chips
as Wall Street extended its run of record highs, though a slew
of profit downgrades from retailers restrained buyers.
All 'Big Four' banks rose, with Commonwealth Bank of
Australia adding 0.7 percent and Westpac Banking Corp
climbing 0.6 percent. Despite a recent pull back in
banking stocks following a record-run, the high-yielding sector
continues to attract investors.
Furthermore, analysts at Macquarie Bank said Australian
banks stand to benefit from the European Central Bank's easing
steps last week that took its deposit rate into negative
territory for the first time.
"This will have a positive impact on the regional banks, but
is also likely to be positive for the majors from a funding
perspective," the analysts said in a note.
"These sorts of central bank interventions can drive large
downward movements in spreads, leading to margin improvement."
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 18.3 points to 5,482.3
by 0217 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.5 percent on Friday, but
dipped 0.5 percent for the week. Australian markets were closed
on Monday for the Queen's Birthday holiday.
The early impetus for Sydney came from Wall Street, where
the Dow and S&P 500 ended at record highs again overnight as
more deal news raised enthusiasm for stocks.
In the resource space, BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio
Tinto Ltd gained 0.4 percent and 0.7 percent,
respectively, as aluminium prices hit their highest in 9-1/2
months on declining inventories.
The retailer sector lost ground as a slew of companies
issued profit downgrades. The Reject Shop Ltd sank 11.3
percent to A$8.13, its lowest point since December 2006 after
saying it expects to report full year profit after tax of
between A$14.5 million and A$15.5 million.
Pacific Brands Ltd slumped 8 percent to near 4-week
lows of A$0.52 after lowering its underlying fiscal year 2014
NewSat Ltd dived nearly 15 percent as it cut its
revenue forecasts for fiscal 2014 to be between A$30 million to
The New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index was
marginally lower at 5,180.55.
The main mover was Australasian chemicals company Nuplex
Industries Ltd which plunged more than 7 percent after
it lowered its earnings guidance for the current year because of
weak local markets, the effect of a high exchange rate, and
restructuring costs. The stock pared its losses and last traded
down 3.6 percent at NZ$3.24.
Trading on the NZX was briefly interrupted by technical
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)