February 22, 2013 / 12:41 AM / 5 years ago

Australia shares rise on upbeat comments from central bank governor

(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
    SYDNEY, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares advanced 1.3
percent on Friday, led by the financials sector as upbeat
comments from the country's central bank governor offset
concerns about the U.S. and euro zone economies.
    In a parliament hearing on Friday, the governor of the
Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, said that Australia's
inflation outlook provided scope to ease further if needed and
that the economy would have a seamless transition from the
mining boom peak. 
    "In short we all believe that Glen Stevens will balance out
when push comes to shove," said Damien Boey, equity strategist
at Credit Suisse.
    "That's what's driving the market and that's basically what
he revealed today."
    Financials underpinned the market, with top lender the
Commonwealth Bank of Australia notching the biggest 
gain in the sector, up 2.1 percent.
    The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index had climbed 68.1
points to 5,048.2 by 0018 GMT. The index fell 2.3 percent on
Thursday, its biggest one-day percentage fall since May on
worries the U.S. Federal Reserve could stop or cut its monetary
stimulus programme.
    Global sentiment remained fragile as U.S. and euro zone data
painted a gloomy economic picture. In the United States weekly
jobless claims and factory activity underscored the need for the
Fed's monetary stimulus, while unexpectedly weak business
activity indexes in Europe dampened hopes for the euro zone to
soon emerge from recession.
    The Australian market has risen around 8.5 percent this year
on receding euro zone and U.S. debt concerns, and on a
relatively strong earnings season. 
    In the short run, however, the benchmark index may struggle
to stay above the 5,000 level as global markets remain on an
unsure footing. 
    "I think it's going to be very tricky," said Boey.
    "In America they're kind of revealing that actually the next
thing we need to do is start tightening, and that's why global
stocks are very volatile at the moment and we're going to be
caught up in that."
    Global iron ore miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
Ltd lost 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.
    Defensives supported the index. Food retailer Woolworths Ltd
 jumped 1.5 percent while rival Coles-owner Wesfarmers
Ltd climbed 1 percent. 
    Telecommunications giant Telstra Corp Ltd tacked on
 1.2 percent after it announced on Thursday it will cut 650 jobs
at its directory services unit Sensis as part a restructuring
away from its traditional print-based model to a digital media
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.4
percent, or 16.7 points to 4,187.1.

    * Billabong Ltd fell 3.3 percent to A$0.88, a
five-week low. The embattled surfwear company posted a
first-half net loss of A$536.6 million and lowered its full year
    (0016 GMT)
    * Crown Ltd added 1.3 percent to A$11.70. The
casino giant reported a half-year net profit of A$180.8 million,
compared to A$274.4 million in the prior comparable period.
    (0016 GMT)
    * Fortescue Metals Group Ltd rose 0.8 percent to
A$4.84 after the world's no.4 iron ore miner announced new
appointments to its board of directors. 
    (0017 GMT)
    * Santos gained 2.8 percent to A$12.23. The oil and
gas producer reported a 34 percent rise in annual profit after
lifting gas production and said its major LNG development
projects remained on track.
    (0017 GMT)
    * Ten Network Holdings Ltd climbed percent 1.8
percent to A$0.29 after the television network completed the
sale of its former Eye UK operations in the United Kingdom.
    (0018 GMT)


 (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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