(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, April 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares posted slender gains on Thursday morning, supported by the S&P 500 index closing at yet another record high and an uptick in resource stocks on the back of rising metals prices.
Weakness in banking stocks, which has had a stellar run recently, capped the broader market. Investors were also watching out for the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens’ speech at a luncheon later in the day.
Resources stocks were supported as copper rose to its highest in more than three weeks after a powerful earthquake off the coast of top miner Chile triggered a tsunami, raising concerns about supply. BHP Billiton Ltd added 0.3 percent, Rio Tinto Ltd rose 0.2 percent, and Western Areas Ltd climbed 1.2 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index tacked on 0.2 percent, or 9.7 points, to 5,413.0 by 0117 GMT.
The Australian market is trading some 50 odd points below the 5-1/2 year high of 5,462.3 points hit on March 7 as geopolitical tension in Ukraine and worries about slowing growth in China have dampened investor sentiment.
“We’ve had a few goes at breaking through - there’s no reason that it can‘t,” said Simon Twiss, a dealer at Arnhem Investment Management.
“What will it take? Maybe some strength in the iron ore and some strength in the miners. That’s been what has been holding us back for most of this year.”
Banks were trading lower, with Westpac Banking Corp off 0.4 percent and National Australia Bank Ltd down 0.8 percent. NAB, the country’s fourth largest bank by market capitalisation, announced he surprise retirement of chief executive Cameron Clyne, replacing him with the head of the group’s New Zealand operations.
Retailers were modestly higher despite data for February showing nationwide retail sales turnover up just 0.2 percent on-month. Department store operator Myer Holdings Ltd added 0.4 percent and rival David Jones Ltd gained 1.2 percent.
Dicker Data Ltd soared 10.5 percent to all-time highs of A$1.79, extending its run higher after the company announced the completion of its acquisition of Express Data Holdings Pty Ltd earlier this week.
Lonestar Resources climbed 6.7 percent to A$0.32, its highest point since June 2009 on solid demand for its offering of $220 million senior unsecured notes to U.S. based institutional investors.
Shares in Goodman Fielder Ltd rebounded 5.3 percent after tumbling in the previous session following a profit warning from the food company.
New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index was flat at 5,115.4.
Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam