Australia shares follow Wall St higher, volume light ahead of earnings

Reuters - UK Focus

(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

SYDNEY, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares added 0.7percent on Monday, led by the banks and following a jump on WallStreet, though volumes were low with investors cautious before abatch of corporate earnings reports due later in the week.

Among financials, bluechips Commonwealth Bank of Australia (Other OTC: CBAUF - news) gained 1.1 percent and Westpac Banking Corp added 1 percent. Westpac's deputy chairman John Curtis said hewill retire from the board on April 25.

Mid-tier Bank of Queensland Ltd (Other OTC: BKQNY - news) rose 0.1 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 37.8 points to 5,204.3by 0041 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.7 percent on Friday. Tradingwas light with 141.2 million shares traded by 0042, compared toa moving daily average of 514.9 million shares in January.

Companies due to report later in the week include TelstraCorporation Ltd, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, CSL (Other OTC: CMXHF - news) , and Boral Ltd.

"I don't think there will be any great surprises in earningsthis week," said Shawn Hickman, managing director at MarketMatters in Sydney.

"CBA and Telstra (Frankfurt: TSTA.F - news) will probably come out, make money and paygood dividends. CBA will be the key to this week because theirmargins are looking very healthy and their bad debts are lookingvery healthy."

Resource stocks also helped underpin the local market ascopper rose to post its largest weekly rise for the year,boosted by hopes of a pick-up in demand after the Chinese NewYear. Among miners, BHP Billiton Ltd climbed 1 percentand Rio Tinto Ltd (Xetra: 855018 - news) added 1.3 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd jumped 5.1 percent.

A handful of defensives also underpinned the market withtelecommunications giant Telstra Corporation Ltd andbiotechnology firm CSL Ltd both up 1 percent.

Western Areas (Frankfurt: FX9.F - news) jumped 5.3 percent to 3-1/2 monthhighs of A$2.90 after the company says it expects metrics fromearnings including EBITDA margins, EBITDA and net profit aftertax to be improved from the prior six months.

G8 Education soared 7 percent to all-time highs ofA$3.52 after the company said it has acquired 63 premiumchildcare and education centres for A$104.7 million.

The benchmark has recovered from 7-week lows hit last weekas investors struggled to come to terms with the Reserve Bank ofAustralia's decision to drop its easing bias.

"Backing up the strong end to last week with this positiveearly performance, bullish overtones from international marketshave helped kickstart the benchmark index," said Niall King, asales trader at CMC (BSE: CMCSL.BO - news) markets in a note.

U.S. stocks jumped on Friday, giving the S&P 500 its firstweekly gain in four as the impact of a weak reading on thelabour market was dulled by harsh weather conditions and tradersfocused on expectations of further economic strength.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.3percent to 4,828.2.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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