* ASX 200 rises 0.3 percent, set to add 4.4 percent for July
* 103 shares trading higher, 80 shares lower, 17 shares
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford
SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 31 Australian shares
added 0.3 percent on Thursday to hit another six-year high with
the banking sector and an uptick on Wall Street supporting
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended higher overnight after the
Federal Reserve gave a rosier assessment of the U.S. economy
while reaffirming that it is in no hurry to raise interest
The banking sector climbed higher, led by Commonwealth Bank
of Australia which added 0.7 percent to trade at a
record high of A$83.74. National Australia Bank rose
0.6 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp climbed 0.8
percent, and said it has appointed Dave Curran as the new chief
Woodside Petroleum Ltd dropped 1.6 percent after
news the company's planned $2.68 billion share buyback from
Royal Dutch Shell was on the brink of failing.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 19 points to 5,641.9 by
0140 GMT, a six-year high and marking its third consecutive
session of gains.
"In the past 15 trading days, 12 have been positive prints
and one of the three down days was a fall of a point - showing
July has been quite a bullish month," said Evan Lucas, IG's
market strategist in a note to clients.
The benchmark is on track to jump 4.4 percent for the month,
which would be its biggest one-month gain in a year.
The ASX 200 has been trading on an upward trajectory since
mid-July, underpinned by Wall Street moves to record highs and a
brighter outlook for China, Australia's largest export market.
Miners tugged the market lower as iron ore futures in China
and Singapore fell on a supply glut. Global iron ore producer
BHP Billiton Ltd slipped 0.3 percent, while Lynas
Corporation Ltd slumped 13.4 percent after issuing a
trading update and saying that it continues to "work with Nomura
and its exisitng financiers regarding the potential restructure
of its existing financing facilities."
Elsewhere, investors shrugged off data that showed export
prices fell 7.9 percent in the second quarter, while building
approvals fell 5 percent in June.
Directors of Dimerix Bioscience Ltd have withdrawn
the IPO of shares in the company.
New Zealand stocks were fractionally firmer with the
benchmark NZX-50 index up 5 points or 0.1 percent to
5,163.53, with modest lifts for some leaders and continued
appetite for medium and small-cap stocks.
The biggest move was from Australian-based gold miner Oceana
, which operates two mines in New Zealand and reported a
second quarter loss in due in part to the high kiwi dollar. It
last traded down 12.3 percent at NZ$3.42.
Among top-10 stocks Fisher and Paykel Healthcare,
and Telecom Corp posted gains of more than 1 percent,
while discount retailer the Warehouse and
telecommunications network operator Chorus were also
However, apart from some end of month positioning, investors
were awaiting the reporting season, which starts in a couple of
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)