Australia shares rise 0.4 pct on risk-on sentiment, await local earnings

Reuters - UK Focus

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SYDNEY, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.4 percenton Friday, lifted by big banks and miners, as investors awaitedU.S. payroll numbers and local corporate earnings.

Miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd (Xetra: 855018 - news) gained 1.4 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Other OTC: CBAUF - news) edged up slightly,and Westpac Banking Corp climbed 1.5 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 21.2 points to 5,152.6by 0121 GMT. The benchmark rose 1.2 percent on Thursday, itsbiggest one-day gain in three weeks.

"Obviously it all hinges on the non-farm payrolls tonight inthe US. The market is pretty bullish," said Simon Ho, executivedirector at Triple 3 Partners (Other OTC: PGPHF - news) , an independent investment firm.

"We're not as sanguine about it, we still think there aresome worries out there, emerging markets for one," Ho added.

China's markets reopened on Friday after the week-long lunarnew year holiday, and analysts expect a correction ahead for theASX from potentially downbeat Chinese data down the track.

"The holidays are also likely to feed into retrospectivedata over the coming months and will give the China bears evenmore fodder," IG (LSE: IGG.L - news) market strategist Evan Lucas said in a clientnote.

Australia's central bank on Friday raised its forecasts foreconomic growth and inflation for 2014, and reiterated thatrates were likely to remain at 2.5 percent for a while, in partbecause underlying inflation was now expected to near the top ofits target band by mid-year.

Aurora Oil & Gas Ltd (Other OTC: AAGLF - news) surged 56 percent to a15-month high after Canadian heavy oil producer Baytex Energy (NYSE: BTE - news) Corp agreed to buy the company at A$4.10 per share, adding to its production from the prolific Eagle Ford shale oilregion of Texas.

The Aurora deal boosted other energy producers such as AWELtd, jumping 7.2 percent, and Karoon Gas Australia Ltd (Other OTC: KRNGF - news) , up 6.3 percent.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd (Other OTC: WOPEF - news) , however, eased 0.5 percentafter it signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire a 25percent interest in Israel's Leviathan field, which is smallerthan the previous in-principle agreement to buy a 30 percentstake in the newly discovered gas prospect.

Billabong International Ltd Jumped 12.4 percent,after it said it was considering a sale of its two e-commercebusinesses to refocus on its core brand.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.6percent to 4,835.5.

(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Additional reporting by ThuyOng; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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