Australia shares race to 1-month highs on strong US jobs data

Reuters - UK Focus

* ASX 200 rise to one-month highs in third session of gains

* Investors chase banks for high dividend yields

* Benchmark index is set to tack on xx percent for the week (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Naomi Tajitsu

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, July 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares roseto one-month highs on Friday, driven by gains in most majorsector as investors cheered brisk jobs growth in the UnitedStates and another record night on Wall Street.

Wall Street's holiday-shortened session ended with multiplerecords on Thursday, with the Dow topping 17,000 for the firsttime after the June jobs report came in much stronger thanexpected.

Investors continued to scoop up top-tier banking stocks,attracted by their high dividend yields of between 4.7 percentto 5.8 percent each. National Australia Bank climbed1.1 percent, Westpac Banking Corp added 0.7 percent,and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Other OTC: CBAUF - news) tacked on 0.5percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 33.2 points, or 0.7percent, to 5,527.0 by 0227 GMT, its third day of consecutivegains.

The benchmark climbed 1.2 percent on Thursday and is set tobook gains of 1.5 percent for the week, its third consecutive week in the black as investors have swept back into the marketat the start of the new financial year.

"In terms of the longer term, we need to see either a bigstructural change in the domestic economy, or see globaldeveloping economies recover markedly before seeing the ASXreplicate the returns of our developed offshore peers," said TimRadford, global investment manager at Rivkin Securities in anote.

The resources sector underpinned the market as LME copper surged to a session high of $7,187.50 a tonne, whilebenchmark 62 percent grade iron ore for immediate delivery toChina rose to $96.50 a tonne.

BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 1.1 percent to 1-monthhighs of A$37.63, Rio Tinto Ltd (Xetra: 855018 - news) added 0.3 percent toA$62.62, its highest since mid-May, and Iluka Resources Ltd (Other OTC: ILKAF - news) jumped 1.2 percent to 1-month highs of A$8.71.

Among defensives, top telecommunications provider TelstraCorporation Ltd jumped 1 percent.

Lynas Corp soared 5.6 percent after saying itexpects to reach its initial output rate target by December atthe latest, which would shore up its shaky cash position.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index was largelyflat at 5,167.87 in early trade.

Losses in gold explorer OceanaGold (Other OTC: OGDCF - news) , which fell 2.0percent on the back of a slide in global gold prices,were offset by a 1.8 percent rise in New Zealand Refining.

NZ Refining was boosted after the company said record-highconsumption of natural gas in the last two months would lift itsrefining margins. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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