November 25, 2013 / 1:12 AM / in 4 years

Australia shares rise on financials, weaker Aussie dollar

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.6 percent on Monday morning, buoyed by a strong financial sector after Wall Street climbed to record highs, with a weaker Australian dollar supporting stocks of companies with a large offshore exposure.

Financials led the market higher. Commonwealth Bank of Australia added 0.3 percent and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.5 percent. Top investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd climbed 1 percent.

Momentum was set up by Friday’s gains on Wall Street, when the S&P 500 closed above 1,800 for the first time and the Dow Jones industrial average posted another record close.

“It’s a very strong year on the Australian sharemarket, and sector-wise we’ve seen every single sector except for the materials space gaining ground in 2013,” said Julia Lee, equities analyst at Bell Direct.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 32 points to 5,367.9 by 0033 GMT, extending a 0.9 percent rise on Friday.

Although the benchmark lost 1.2 percent last week, analysts said the trend since June has been upwards with only minor corrections. The market has gained 15.4 percent so far in 2013, and hit a five-year peak of 5,457.3 on October 28.

Stocks with a large exposure to the U.S. market climbed on Monday. Logistics company Brambles Ltd added 0.9 percent and blood products maker CSL Ltd rallied 1.1 percent. Amcor Ltd rose 0.9 percent.

The fall in the Australian dollar to 2-1/2 month lows against the U.S. dollar should help the earnings of exporters and companies who earn significant revenues in overseas markets.

Retailers also fared well, with electronics and entertainment company JB Hi-Fi Ltd edging 0.1 percent higher and rival Harvey Norman rising 0.3 percent.

“While the snowball of consensus for economic momentum is growing, any perceived vulnerability in the U.S. growth picture will continue to heavily influence market sentiment and volatility,” said Niall King, a sales trader from CMC Markets in a note to clients.

Canada’s Saputo Inc said it would increase its offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory Co if it won control of Australia’s dairy maker, seeking to end a costly three-way battle for the company. Shares in Warrnambool rallied 2.2 percent, while rival bidder Bega Cheese Ltd fell 1.3 percent.

Australasian real estate trust Commonwealth Property Office Fund terminated a deal with Dexus Property Group and a Canadian pension fund after receiving a higher takeover offer from property investor The GPT Group. Commonwealth Property slipped 0.2 percent, while Dexus rallied 1.9 percent and GPT Group jumped 3.1 percent.

Aurizon Holdings Ltd jumped 2.4 percent after saying it had reached a milestone with GVK Coal Infrastructure (Singapore) towards a joint development of rail line and a new coal terminal at existing Abbot Point Port.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.4 percent to 4,836.4. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by John Mair)

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