Australia shares edge up 0.1 pct on Wall St lead in cautious trade

Tue Jul 16, 2013 3:00am BST

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(Adds analyst comments, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY, July 16 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged up 0.1 percent in late morning trade on Tuesday following Wall Street's record closing highs, but traded in thin volume as investors fretted over global economic growth - particularly in China, Australia's biggest customer.

Major banks lifted the index. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia edged up 0.6 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1.2 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 5.8 points to 4,986.9 by 0138 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.2 percent on Monday.

The index edged up slightly after the Reserve Bank of Australia published minutes of its July meeting, which noted that the weakening Australian dollar added to inflation risk, but still kept its easing bias.

The local market took a positive lead from Wall Street, with both Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 finishing at record closing highs on Citigroup's strong earnings.

"We're looking towards the U.S. reporting season with expectation of 2 percent rise in earnings this quarter," said Martin Lakos, a division director at Macquarie Private Wealth in Sydney.

"Domestic investors are looking towards our own reporting season which kicks off towards the end of the month. A positive for earnings in the U.S. markets will assist our market sentiment," he added.

Australian stocks have also been buoyed by assurances the Federal Reserve's stimulus drive will be kept on longer and China's GDP growth coming in as expected, analysts said.

The benchmark has kept rising for six straight days. The trading volume was thin, though, as investors were still cautious about the global economic outlook, said Martin Angel, a dealer at Patersons Securities in Perth.

"People may have just stopped the mass-selling. People are hoping the market will rebalance from here, but they are still very cautious about where the world economy is going," he said. "That's why you don't get strong volumes."

Global miner BHP Billiton Ltd gained 0.4 percent, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd edged down 0.4 percent. Rio is due to report its June quarter production later on Tuesday.

Consumer stocks traded lower. Supermarket Woolworths Ltd lost 0.3 percent, and rival retailer Wesfarmers Ltd dipped 0.2 percent.

Australia's biggest phone company, Telstra Corp Ltd, added 0.6 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index eased 0.3 percent to 4,592.3.

STOCKS ON THE MOVE

* Paladin Energy Ltd rallied 8.9 percent to a nearly 4-month high of A$1.05, after the company reported strong sales revenue for the June quarter and said its annual revenue was up 23 percent on the previous year.

(0120 GMT)

* Australian independent oil and gas company Strike Energy Ltd surged 15 percent to A$0.12 after the company said it signed a supply contract with explosives maker Orica Ltd .

(0131 GMT)

* Perseus Mining Ltd dived 18.2 percent to A$0.54, after it said late on Monday that it expected lower production in the year to June 2014 from the year just ended and it had also deferred a decision on developing the Sissingue gold project in Cote d'Ivoire.

(0117 GMT)

* Treasury Wine Estates plunged 7.9 percent to A$4.71, continuing to slide after the company said on Monday it was destroying some of its aged U.S. inventory, resulting in a A$160 million ($145 million) hit to pre-tax earnings in fiscal 2013 and lower U.S. shipments in fiscal 2014.

(0114 GMT)

(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang; Additional reporting by Michael Sin; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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