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Australia shares close higher on financials; NZ flat

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed higher on Friday in their fourth consecutive session of gains, supported by a rise in financial stocks after two of the 'Big Four' banks increased their mortgage rates.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.2 per cent to 5,799.60 points at the close of trade, gaining 0.4 per cent for the week.

National Australia Bank raised interest rates on residential investment loans by 25 basis points to 5.80 per cent on Thursday, while Westpac Banking said on Friday it would increase its variable home loan rate for owner occupiers by 3-8 basis points.

Westpac Banking closed 1.1 per cent higher, while National Australia Bank ended up 0.53 per cent.

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On the other hand, supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd closed at its lowest in nearly two weeks, while Wesfarmers Ltd closed 0.2 per cent down.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1 per cent, or 6.15 points, to finish the session at 7,158.14 points.

The region saw gains in real estate and industrials stocks with Kiwi Property Group Ltd closing at a one-week high, while Auckland International Airport Ltd closed 0.9 per cent higher.

Consumer discretionary stocks were the biggest drag on the index with online marketplace operator Trade Me Group Ltd closing at a two-week low.

The benchmark index shed 0.3 per cent this week.

REUTERS

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