LOS ANGELES – Australia's S&P/ASX 200 traded 0.4% higher early Monday, with banks and energy shares supporting the market in the face of weakness in the mining sector. Suggesting an easing of last week's fears over a Portuguese banking crisis, the major financials saw some gains, as Australia & New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.5%, National Australia Bank Ltd. advanced 0.6% and Westpac Banking Corp. gained 0.7%. Energy also saw some broad strength, recovering after last week's losses for crude-oil prices, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd. up 0.3%, Oil Search Ltd. up 0.8%, and Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. rising 3.1% as Dow Jones Newswires reported the company may use the cash from its sale of assets to Origin Energy Ltd. (trading up 0.3% Monday) to fund a share buyback. Among the miners, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. fell 1.8%, extending losses late last week when its production report missed forecasts, while Atlas Iron Ltd. lost 3.8%, and Rio Tinto Ltd. slipped 0.2%. Meanwhile, a USB note on Australian copper miners rated Sandfire Resources a buy and Oz Minerals Ltd. a sell. Early Monday, Sandfire was flat after making some slim early gains, while Oz was down 1.8%.
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