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Australia: Shares edge up in cautious trading; Fed eyed
[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose 0.4 per cent on Monday in thin trading largely led by banks, and as investors looked for direction ahead of the US Federal Reserve meeting later this week.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 20.1 points to 5,091.2 by 0203 GMT, after touching an intra-day high of 5,132.4 in early deals. The benchmark finished 0.5 per cent lower in see-saw trading on Friday.
The index is down nearly 6 per cent so far this year and is trading near mid-2013 levels. It is on track for another monthly loss after its biggest decline since late 2008 in August.
Recent volatility in shares globally has unsettled investors as concerns about a global slowdown in the wake of China's market turmoil continue to weigh on sentiment, compounded by uncertainty around whether the US Fed is confident enough to raise interest rates for the first time in a decade at its policy meeting on Sept 16-17. "The local share market is finding support between the 5,000 and 5,200 level as all eyes are now cast on the US Federal Reserve," said Mark Lennox, senior private adviser at HC Securities.
A break below 5,000 could see the market plunging to 4,700 points, he added.
Major banks led the rally on Monday with Westpac and National Australia Bank up about 1.5 per cent. Commonwealth Bank lost one per cent after raising US$3.6 billion through a rights issue.
Fueling gains in the sector, investment bank Macquarie jumped nearly 3 per cent to a 3-1/2 week high after it said first-half results will be 40 per cent higher.
Oil and gas explorer Oil Search fell as much 3.1 per cent after rejecting an US$8 billion takeover offer from rival Woodside Petroleum.
For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX50 index rose 16.9 points or 0.3 per cent to 5,664.91 in early trade, supported by gains in utilities and industrial shares.