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Australia shares rise early as banks gain

Wednesday, 3 Oct 2012 | 8:32 PM ET

MELBOURNE, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose 0.2 percent early on Thursday as gains in banks offset weaker miners, with sentiment supported by encouraging jobs growth data in the United States.

The rise was limited by declines in oil and copper prices after data indicated recession in Europe in the third quarter and after China's services sector PMI fell in September.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

was up 9 points at 4,447.6 by 0017 GMT. The index had hit a 14-month high of 4,454.6 in trade on Wednesday before paring gains to end up 0.1 percent.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

fell 0.1 percent to 3,885.5 points.

Top banks all rose around 0.5 percent each.

Top supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd

rose 0.6 percent to A$29.08. The retailer is set to spin off some of its property portfolio into a fund and raise about A$500 million ($510 million) in equity as early as Friday, a source with direct knowledge said.

(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by John Mair)

((miranda.maxwell@reuters.com)(Reuters

Messaging:)(miranda.maxwell.reuters.com@reuters.net)(+61-3

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