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Australia: Shares edge up, but fall sharply on week

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Australian shares bucked a poor performance by Wall Street to edge 0.6 per cent higher on Thursday, aided by a hunt for dividend yield and more merger action.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed modestly higher on Friday after a see-saw session that saw gains in the miners offset losses in banks, but the market still posted one of its worst weeks this year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.25 per cent, or 12.8 points, to 5,040.6.

For the week, it closed 4.2 per cent lower - its biggest weekly fall since June - as fear of a China-led global economic slowdown roiled financial markets.

Helping underpin the market were gains in the major miners. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both closed higher.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index eased 0.4 per cent, or 22.8 points, to finish at 5,546.9.

REUTERS