* Banks help market eke out small gain, Aquila soars
* Miners fall as copper drops to 1-month low
* Investors cautious ahead of employment data due on
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, June 11 Australian shares
inched up on Wednesday, as gains for banking stocks slightly
outweighed dips for mining and defensive sectors as Wall
Street's flat finish limited leads.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 5.7 points, or 0.1
percent, to 5,469.7 by 0225 GMT. The benchmark edged 0.1 percent
higher on Monday.
A measure of Australian consumer sentiment steadied in June
as the shock from May's unpopular federal budget began to fade
and worries about family finances and the near-term economic
outlook eased a little.
Westpac Banking Corp added 0.3 percent, as did
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
Shares in takeover target Aquila Resources Ltd rose
2.7 percent to A$3.61, their highest since May 2012, after a
block trade of shares went through at a price 10 percent higher
than Chinese state-owned Baosteel Resources has offered for the
Copper dropped to a one-month low on Tuesday as an
investigation into metal financing in China prompted concern
that a crackdown could hit trade in the metal.
BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd both
lost 0.9 percent. Elsewhere, Lynas Corporation Ltd fell
Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, said metal prices were
moving sideways ahead of Australia May jobs data due
"The numbers will give a really good indication of how
people have taken the budget," he said. "From the market's
perspective, the budget is not as bad as some people are
reporting - which is why people are holding out because
everything is looking just slightly expensive."
Among defensive stocks, consumer retail staple Woolworths
Ltd lost 0.7 percent and Sonic Healthcare Ltd
slipped 0.2 percent.
Downer EDI Ltd sank 10.4 percent to 2-1/2 month
lows of A$4.74 after the company said its Goonyella Riverside
mine contract has been terminated, with an impact on
work-in-hand of approximately A$360 million.
Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd jumped 1.9 percent
after saying it is expected to achieve underlying profit before
tax of A$370 million-A$380 million for the year to June 30.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1
percent or 7.1 points to 5,172.3, in quiet trade as investors
remain cautious ahead of the central bank's rate decision on
New Zealand software developer ikeGPS Group Ltd is
considering raising up to NZ$25 million through an initial
public offering to fund growth in the United States.
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)