July 31, 2014 / 2:00 AM / 3 years ago

Australia shares trade at 6-year highs, resources cap gains

* ASX 200 rises 0.3 percent, set to add 4.4 percent for July

* 103 shares trading higher, 80 shares lower, 17 shares unchanged (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - 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 gains.

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 rates.

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 information officer.

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Directors of Dimerix Bioscience Ltd have withdrawn the IPO of shares in the company.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 well bid.

However, apart from some end of month positioning, investors were awaiting the reporting season, which starts in a couple of weeks. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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