May 2, 2018 / 3:31 AM / 5 months ago

Australian shares rise on record Qantas outlook, stronger banks; NZ up

* Aussie shares rise to more than 2-mth high

* Qantas surges supporting industrials

* Woolworths highest since August 2015 on strong Q3 sales growth

* NZ rises on a2 Milk

By Aditya Soni

May 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Wednesday, led by gains in financials, with industrials surging after Qantas Airways forecast record annual profits.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent or 35.70 points to 6,050.9 by 0320 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

Qantas forecast underlying profit before tax in a range of A$1.55 billion to A$1.60 billion ($1.16 billion-$1.20 billion) for the fiscal year ended June 30, compared with A$1.4 billion profit a year earlier. Qantas’s third quarter revenue rose 7.5 percent.

Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, rose 6.2 percent to a near six-month high and was among the most dominant gainers on the benchmark.

The last 12 months have been “tremendous” for Qantas, with the rise in its share price driving a spike in local industrials, said James McGlew, executive director for corporate stockbroking at Perth-based Argonaut.

The Australian industrials index rose 1.4 percent, with toll road operator Transurban Group rising 0.6 percent to a more than seven-week high, while Sydney Airport Holdings climbed 0.8 percent.

Banks continued to build on their strong start to the week, with the Australian financial index climbing 0.6 percent to an almost six-week high. The index has gained about 2.5 percent since Friday’s close.

McGlew said that positive news on the major banks has returned positive buying momentum to the sector.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd on Tuesday reported a 4 percent rise in its half-year cash earnings from continuing operations.

An extra A$1 billion ($753 million) capital requirement slugged on Commonwealth Bank of Australia by the country’s banking regulator on Tuesday wasn’t as bad as investors had expected. The lender traded 0.4 percent higher on Wednesday.

Grocery giant Woolworths Group Ltd also gained, rising 1.1 percent to a near three-year high.

Woolworths’ third-quarter sales rose 4.3 percent, helped by strong domestic food sales even as fruit and vegetable deflation persisted.

Mining services provider Mineral Resources Ltd surged 4.3 percent to its highest in more than two months.

The company said on Tuesday it was looking to sell a minority stake in its Wodgina Lithium mine in the west of Australia.

The wider materials sector also traded higher, underpinned by a rise in copper prices.

Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd strengthened 0.9 percent, while South32 Ltd jumped 1.8 percent.

But electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Ltd dipped as much as 9.8 percent to its lowest in more than five months after cutting its full-year profit forecast, citing a weak performance from The Good Guys, its home appliances business.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7 percent or 55.55 points to 8,491.11.

Consumer staples accounted for nearly half of the gains, with a2 Milk Company Ltd climbing about 2.6 percent to its highest since April 24. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Syed Saif Hussain Naqvi Editing by Eric Meijer)

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