[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose 0.4 per cent on Tuesday after five straight days of losses, helped by positive cues from Wall Street and a rebound in financials and industrial stocks.
At 0041 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was up 21.2 points to 4,949.80. The benchmark slid 2 per cent on Monday to 4,928.60.
Despite Tuesday's gains, the index traded near 3-month lows, below the crucial 5,000 level. It has declined in eight of the last nine sessions - a feat repeated only once this year and three times in the past four years, noted IG market analyst Evan Lucas. "There are signs that the ASX is coming to the critical point where sustained selling will be questioned," Lucas said in a note.
Later in the session, the Australian government will release its latest budget update or Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), which is likely to see deficits revised up as falling commodity prices erode revenues.
Minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) December policy meeting reaffirmed the outlook for steady interest rates in the near term. "The Fed, RBA minutes and MYEFO might give the ASX the final little push it needs to the downside to get buyers to finally see value worth backing," IG's Lucas said.
Pet care company Greencross was the biggest gainer on the index, up 27.7 per cent on media speculation an investment bank is seeking to acquire nearly 15 per cent of its shares.
Insurance company Suncorp slid for a second day after brokerages slashed its price target following an earnings warning on Monday.
Insurance group QBE was among the top gainers in financials sector, up 2.7 per cent. The Big Four banks were mixed with ANZ and NAB almost flat, CBA up 0.4 per cent and Westpac rising 0.7 per cent.
Major miner BHP Billiton slipped 1.6 per cent while Rio Tinto was flat.
Brambles climbed 1.9 per cent while Transurban traded 1 per cent higher.
For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.12 per cent or 7.190 points to 6,042.440 on Tuesday.
Gains came on the back of soaring Chorus Ltd shares, which rose as much as 21 per cent to a record high of NZ$3.75 after the competition regulator said Chorus could charge telecommunication companies more to access its infrastructure.
Telecommunications company Spark New Zealand, which uses Chorus infrastructure, dropped 2.06 per cent to a two-month low.
Property for Industry rose 0.62 per cent after announcing its portfolios had grown by 5 per cent in a recent independent valuation.