September 19, 2014 / 2:57 AM / 6 years ago

Australia shares edge up, braced by banks, as investors eye Scotland

* ASX 200 posts modest rise on Wall Street, miners still weak

* 111 shares higher, 71 shares lower, 18 shares unchanged

* Early ‘No’ votes in Scottish referendum underpins sentiment (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares added 0.2 percent on Friday as Wall Street climbed, though continued weakness in iron ore hit resource stocks, and investors continued to scrutinise results trickling in from the Scottish independence referendum.

U.S. stocks rose overnight, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve kept intact its pledge to keep interest rates low, providing a backstop for investors that helped lift both the Dow and S&P to record highs.

Banks underpinned the market as investors slipped back into the recently sold-off stocks, with National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group both climbing 1.1 percent.

“They were the primary beneficiaries in the search for yield,” said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual. “but we’re now in an environment where global bond yields are once again rising so we have seen a partial reversal of that trade, and that’s likely to continue.”

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 8.2 points to 5,424.0 by 0233 GMT. The benchmark fell added 0.2 percent on Thursday, snapping six sessions of losses.

Market sentiment was also underpinned with early results from the Scottish referendum suggesting a ‘No’ vote is set to win, which would put to rest uncertainties raised by the prospect of an independent Scotland.

“That’s going to be a lot more constructive for markets,” Sherwood said.

Chinese rebar steel futures fell for a third day in a row, weighed by excess supply. Miners dipped with global iron ore producers BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd dipping 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent each.

The benchmark hit a six-year high of 5,679.5 on August 21, but has since slumped some 250 points to hover at 11-week lows as a rout in iron ore prices and fears over a slowdown in China, Australia’s largest export market, have hit sentiment.

OceanaGold Corp jumped 2.7 percent after confirming in response to local media reports it is not currently in discussions with Alacer regarding potential business transactions.

AGL Energy Ltd dumped 1.6 percent to A$13.42, its lowest since July 2013 after saying it has completed its retail shortfall bookbuild with around 19.7 million entitlements sold. The total amount paid by successful participants is A$13.25 per new share, roughly a A$0.17 discount to its current trading price.

New Zealand stocks notched moderate gains as they looked to consolidate after recent declines.

The benchmark NZX-50 index was up 0.4 percent to 5,175.08.

Top-stock Fletcher Building bounced 1.4 percent higher from the previous session’s seven-and-a-half month low, settling around NZ$8.88 before lifting a couple of cents.

Energy stocks were generally firmer as the risk receded of major regulatory changes to the sector, as proposed by opposition political parties in the current election campaign.

Latest polls show the ruling centre-right National Party-led government will most likely be returned. It has campaigned on a continuation of its economic and fiscal policies.

Next week sees a trickle of annual results, notably dairy giant Fonterra on Sept 24, which is expected to see it cut its forecast payout for the current season. Outdoor goods and clothing retailer Kathmandu is also due to report.

Editing by Eric Meijer

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