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SYDNEY, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares stepped away from 2-month lows on Tuesday thanks to yet another record high for Wall Street stocks, though a slump in storage company Brambles checked gains.
Higher metals prices supported the resources sector, while the ‘Big Four’ banks underpinned the market.
Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1.6 percent, while Australia’s biggest bank by market capitalization, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, added 0.5 percent.
Dealers said although Australian banks have become expensive, investors continued to pick up their shares because of the high dividend yields. The banks currently yield between 4-6 percent, compared to an average depositor account which yields 2-3 percent annually.
Mining stocks advanced as copper rose on the back of upbeat Chinese trade data, while gold jumped 1 percent.
Heavyweight miner BHP Billiton Ltd added 0.5 percent. Bullion producers Medusa Mining Ltd jumped 7.9 percent and St Barbara Ltd rallied 3.9 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 36.6 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,181.0 by 0127 GMT, snapping three straight sessions of losses after U.S. stocks rose on Monday, with the S&P 500 closing at a record high.
The benchmark fell 0.8 percent on Monday and has struggled to push forward since hitting a five-and-a-half year high of 5,457.3 on October 28, mainly due to uncertainty over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus-tapering timeline.
“The fact that the ASX is behaving independently of the U.S., Japan and China is a great concern as it suggests international and local investors are questioning company and country fundamentals rather than following global trends,” said Evan Lucas, IG’s market strategist in a note to clients.
A handful of underwhelming domestic factors, including profit warnings, have also hobbled the benchmark.
On Tuesday, Brambles Ltd slumped 5.6 percent to three-month lows of A$8.74. The selloff came as its demerged A$1 billion storage division Recall Holdings Ltd made its debut on the stock exchange at A$4.35.
“The recall spinout would take a bit of market share,” Lucas said.
“Brambles has been waiting to get rid of Recall for ages, it hasn’t been a fantastic thing.”
QBE Insurance Group Ltd tumbled 6.3 percent to 11-month lows of A$11.23, extending its losses from the previous session after the insurance company announced a shock profit warning.
Elsewhere, Woodside Petroleum Ltd rose 1 percent after the company cut its total estimated investment expenditure to $1.1 billion for 2013 from a previous guidance of $2.3 billion.
New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.1 percent to 4,723.0.
Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam