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Aussie shares inch up for the day, but have worst week in 8; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose marginally on Friday, as gains for miners outweighed losses for bank stocks, but the main index still had its worst week in eight.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.04 per cent, or 2.5 points, to 6070.10, though it lost 0.9 per cent this week. On Thursday, the benchmark shed 0.5 per cent.

On Friday, material stocks were lifted by iron ore supply concerns stemming from a cyclone brewing in northwest Australia.

Spot iron ore touched its strongest level in nearly five months overnight, boosted by the possibility of a tropical cyclone off the nation's west coast choking supply.

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Australia's metals and mining index finished two per cent higher at its best in nearly half a decade.

Mining heavyweight BHP rose as much as 2.6 per cent, hiked to its best close since September 2014, while rival Rio Tinto advanced 1.7 per cent to its highest in well over six years.

South32, the third-largest miner by market capitalisation, spiked 4 per cent to a record close.

However, financials dampened market cheer, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shedding 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent each.

ANZ said it will not sell its vehicle finance unit - New Zealand's largest non-bank lender - to China's HNA Group after New Zealand blocked the deal over concerns about the vendor's ownership structure.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index erased earlier gains to end 0.1 per cent lower at 8242.35, its worst week in over a year.

Falling healthcare and consumer staples stocks offset gains in utilities and energy, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp, the biggest weight on the index, extending losses to a fifth session.

Energy utility provider Infratil rose 2.6 per cent and helped the index the most.

New Zealand-listed shares of ANZ shed 0.8 per cent to close at its lowest since Dec 15 after the bank nixed its deal with HNA Group.

REUTERS

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