Australia Stocks Rise, With Bank Up Ahead Of Rate Decision

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks stacked up some fresh gains in early Monday trading, with the top banks and senior miners supporting the advance a day ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy decision. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 improved by 0.6%, with a Reuters report saying the gains -- which contrast with losses Friday on Wall Street -- may be due to "investors snap[ing] up stocks for their yield as expectations rise for another rate cut in Australia this week." Shares of the "Big Four" banks all moved higher (Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 0.8%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank Ltd. up 0.9% each, and Westpac Banking Corp. up 1.1%), as were the two mega-miners, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. , which each rose 1.1%. Also in the mining space, U.S.-based Boart Longyear Ltd. rallied 5%, with Sun Media's Nugget website saying more job cuts could follow 22 layoffs reported last week. But the Sydney market also offered something for the bears as well, with Myer Holdings Ltd. down 9.7% after the unexpected news that the retailer's chief executive officer and chief financial officer had both left the company. Woolworths Ltd. dropped 2.7% as both UBS and J.P. Morgan cut their price targets for the stock in the wake of the company's fiscal first-half earnings. And shares of rail operator Aurizon Holdings Ltd. retreated 1.1% after it warned that the hit from a recent Queensland cyclone and from a labor strike could cost it as much as US$23 million in all.

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