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Australia: Shares end 0.5% up on financials, Fed; NZ near record high


[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose on Thursday, buoyed by financials and consumer stocks, as investors took heart from the Federal Reserve's optimism about the US economic recovery and shrugged off a profit drop by major lender National Australia Bank.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.5 per cent at 5,476.2, a whisker away from a seven-week high touched Wednesday.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.3 per cent or 14.3 points to finish the session at 5,370.18, having climbed to a record high of 5,381.71.