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Australia shares trade at 5-year high; inflation data caps gains
October 23, 2013 / 1:52 AM / 4 years ago

Australia shares trade at 5-year high; inflation data caps gains

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares extended their rally into a seventh day on Wednesday and hit a fresh five-year high after Wall Street stocks rose and metal prices firmed, but gains were capped as higher-than-expected inflation data reduced the odds of further rate cuts.

The local benchmark briefly traded above 5,400 points for the first time since June 19, 2008, tracking U.S. stocks after a lacklustre jobs report reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will maintain its stimulus into next year.

But it trimmed gains following statistics showing Australian consumer prices rose more than economists had forecast.

“The quarter is traditionally a strong one so its quite feasible that the next quarter will surprise on the downside,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital Markets.

“It’s certainly a disappointing inflation outcome and a further blow to those expecting another interest rate cut.”

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 14.4 points at 5,387.5 as of 0135 GMT, continuing its run of gains after the end of the U.S. debt-ceiling impasse bolstered investor confidence.

Base material stocks lifted the market, with BHP Billiton Ltd jumping 1.5 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd adding 0.7 percent after copper prices rose. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd gained 1.9 percent.

Newcrest Mining Ltd led the gold sector higher, soaring 4.7 percent after bullion rose more than 2 percent to a three-week high.

Analysts said investors were reassessing the value of Australian resource stocks as recent production reports have showed an uptick in meeting output targets while companies have been successful in bearing down costs and capital expenditure.

Financials also underpinned the market, with National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia both edging 0.2 percent higher. Macquarie Group Ltd , Australia’s biggest investment bank, rose 0.3 percent.

But utilities weakened after AGL Energy Ltd cut its earnings outlook. AGL Energy shares fell 2 percent to A$15.27, a one-month low, while Envestra Ltd lost 1.6 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to trade at an all-time high of 4,856.1 points. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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