* ASX200 reverses earlier falls to add 0.3 pct
* Financials lead, but gains dampened as U.S. & European
stocks fell overnight
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 11 Australian shares
added 0.3 percent on Friday underpinned by the banking sector,
but sentiment was subdued in cautious trade as Wall Street and
European stocks ended lower on concerns over the fallout from
troubles at Portugal's top listed bank.
The financials reversed early losses to trade higher with
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the top bank by market
capitalisation, added 0.3 percent, Australia and New Zealand
Banking Corp rose 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank
, the country's top lender by assets, inched 0.3 percent
Sentiment on the local market was dampened as European and
U.S. stock markets fell as investors fears over financial
troubles at the family-owned holding companies behind Portugal's
Banco Espirito Santo spilled across borders and
"In these times, investors need to remain focused on firms
with strong balance sheets as these tend to outperform during
harder times," said Matt Sherwood, head of investment markets
research in a note to clients.
"Investors will pay a higher premium for the safety of lowly
geared balance sheets."
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 18.9 points to 5,483.3
by 0152 GMT. The benchmark eked out a gain of 0.2 percent on
Thursday and is on track to fall 0.8 percent for the week, which
would be its largest one-week fall since early June.
Gold miners ticked higher after bullion surged to 3-1/2
month highs on safe-haven buying. Northern Star Resources Ltd
was top gainer on the ASX 200, bouncing 5.7 percent to
all-time highs of A$1.67. Evolution Mining Ltd climbed
The benchmark hit a near six-year peak of 5,554.5 on April
29, but has mostly shuffled sideways since then as investors
turned cautious over geopolitical tensions in Iraq and Ukraine.
Among iron ore and steel miners, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd
dropped 1.2 percent after failing to meet its full-year
export guidance. Bluescope Steel Ltd
declined 1.6 percent.
Roc Oil Co Ltd jumped 3.1 percent after receiving a
second takeover offer from an undisclosed source.
Strike Energy Ltd soared 4.2 percent after saying
it will continue looking at ways to sell remaining elements of
its U.S. operations.
The New Zealand sharemarket returned to its losing ways,
reflecting the reduced appetite, with the benchmark NZX-50 index
down 26.9 points or 0.5 percent to 5,101.03, back around
The overall weaker tone was driven by leading stocks, with
casino operator Sky City Entertainment Ltd down 2.1
percent to NZ$3.73, around a four-and-a-half month low, and pay
television operator Sky TV Ltd falling 1.8 percent to
Software company Xero Ltd continued a now-familiar
roller coaster performance down 2.5 percent at NZ$25.00, which
has been a support level for the past three weeks.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)