Australia bank, mining shares rise; media issues down

MELBOURNE, Apr 26: Australian shares rose 0.5 percent to the highest intraday level in six months on Thursday as miners and banks were boosted by signs the U.S. Federal Reserve is prepared to offer more stimulus, but media companies fell after a profit warning.
Boosting investor confidence was a rally in Apple Inc on the back of another spectacular quarter that included soaring iPhone sales in China.
‘What is encouraging about Apple’s profit figures is that a lot of growth was attributed to China. This has somewhat alleviated concerns over the slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy,’ said Miguel Audencial, trader at CMC Markets.
China is Australia’s no. 1 market for exports such as iron ore.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 28 points at 4,388.8 at 0021 GMT, its highest intraday level in six months. The index hit an 8-month closing high on Friday.
New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,510.4 points. New Zealand’s central bank held its official cash rate steady on Thursday, as expected.
• Seven West Media plunged 16 percent to A43.16 after a profit warning due to soft advertising across TV, newspapers and magazines. Rival Fairfax Media fell 3.2 percent while Southern Cross Media fell 4.4 percent.0222 GMT
• Leighton Holdings Ltd rose 2 percent to A$20.61 after it was awarded a $765 million project in Saudi Arabia. 0220 GMT
• Challenger Financial rose 1.6 percent to A$3.91. A company executive said in an interview it plans to expand its property debt portfolio by investing A$300 million ($310 million) to A$400 million annually in the capital-hungry sector as major banks reduce their exposure. 0220 GMT
• Newcrest Mining fell 2.7 percent to A$25.87 as analysts downgraded the stock after it lowered production guidance. (agencies)


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