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Australia: Shares shine after a week of losses


[SYDNEY] Australian shares snapped a 5-day losing streak on Monday to rise 1.2 per cent, helped by broad-based gains across all sectors with financials leading after Macquarie Group upgraded its earnings forecast.

Shares were also boosted after new vehicle sales posted their largest monthly gain of the year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 61.06 points to 5,360.30 points by 0112 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.6 per cent on Friday and posted its biggest weekly drop since June 2013.

There was also relief that Wall Street had managed to end last week with a bounce with Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq all rising more than 1 percent on Friday. "Trading today (is) very much a short cover rally in our beaten up commodities stocks," said Tristan K'Nell, head of trading at Quay Equities.

Investors will likely be cautious this week ahead of China's gross domestic product on Tuesday and Thursday's meeting of the ECB. China is expected to show annual growth slowed to 7.2 per cent last quarter, the weakest in 24 years. "The market will track sideways in the afternoon, with US markets closed tonight, while investors are on the edge of their seats as the market looks ahead to data," K'Nell said.

It's going to be a big week for miners too with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton reporting December quarter production data.

On Monday, BHP was up 4 per cent while Rio rose 1 per cent. Energy stocks gained with Oil Search Ltd and Origin rising 4 percent and 2 per cent, respectively.

In other news, shares of Macquarie posted their biggest daily gain since May 2013 after the investment bank said FY15 profit would rise up to 20 per cent.

Major banks were all up, with Westpac and National Australia Bank rising about 1 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index was modestly higher in subdued trading, boosted by selective buying of blue chips and a lift for retailing stocks.

The market was up 0.34 per cent to 5,635.71. Trading was dulled by a regional public holiday in the capital Wellington.

Of the leaders, telecommunications company Spark Ltd was up 2 per cent to NZ$3.30, the highest since mid-November.

The biggest gainer was clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson which surged as much as 14 per cent to a 12-month high after reporting a strong lift in sales and forecast a 32 per cent lift in first half earnings.

The report helped to lift other retailers, with the market's consumer stocks sub-index up 1 per cent.