* ASX 200 pushes to highest level since June 2008
* 148 shares higher, 36 shares lower, and 16 shares
* Banks, bluechip stocks underpin rally
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 30 Australian shares
added 0.6 percent on Wednesday, climbing to fresh six-year highs
in broad-based gains, though volumes remained relatively subdued
as investors eyed the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day
Blue-chip stocks supported the broader market, with global
miners Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Billiton Ltd
climbing 0.9 percent and 0.4 percent.
Chinese steel and iron ore futures rose to their highest in
more than a week on hopes of a brightening economic outlook
Grocer Woolworths Ltd jumped 1.3 percent, while
Australia's biggest telecommunications provider Telstra
Corporation Ltd added 0.2 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 33.7 points to 5,622.1
by 0151 GMT, pushing through the 5,600 level for the first time
since June 2008.
The benchmark added 0.6 percent on Tuesday and has been
trading on upward trajectory since mid-July, underpinned by Wall
Street moves to record highs and a brighter outlook for China,
Australia's largest export market.
"In the end it's really part of a global rally, it's been
underpinned by the U.S. where economic growth is seen to be
improving albeit slowly, and earnings growth in Australia looks
reasonable at this stage," said Matthew Sherwood, head of
investment market research at Perpetual in Sydney.
Volumes were subdued, with 176 million shares traded,
compared to a 5-day daily average of 454.4 million.
The banking sector reversed early losses as investors
flocked back into their high dividend yields. Westpac Banking
Corp edged 0.2 percent higher, while National Australia
Bank added 0.3 percent. Mid-tier Bendigo and Adelaide
Bank Ltd was up 0.5 percent.
Bookmaker Tabcorp Holdings Ltd jumped 1.3 percent
after saying it has reached an agreement with the Australian
Capital Territory (ACT) government to acquire its ACTTAB
totalisator business for A$105.5 million.
Liquefied Natural Gas Ltd bounced 16.3 percent to a
record high of A$3.78 after announcing a A$38.6 million capital
raising to fund its Bear Head LNG project.
Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd soared
4.3 percent to an all-time high of A$3.41 after it posted a 41
percent rise in first-half net profit. The home loan insurer
also declared a fully franked interim dividend of A$0.028 per
New Zealand stocks were a touch softer in a low key start to
the session with the benchmark NZX-50 index down 2.3
points to 5,163.24, with small and medium-cap stocks providing
the more significant price action.
The Fonterra Shareholders Fund, the investment fund
based on the dairy giant's dividend stream, rose 2.1 percent to
NZ$6.20. The co-operative has raised it forecast dividend payout
even though it cut its forecast to suppliers.
National carrier Air New Zealand, which hit a five
month low last week, clawed back more of its losses, rising 2.9
percent to NZ$1.98.
New market stock Metro Performance Glass Ltd had a
positive first day. It traded as high as NZ$1.80, a 6 percent
premium to its NZ$1.70 issue price, before settling back at
(Editing by Eric Meijer)