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Australia: Shares end week on strong note on US optimism


[SYDNEY] Australian shares ended higher for a second session on Friday, more than recouping steep losses made earlier in the week as optimism over the US economy helped offset worries about weak oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.6 per cent to 5,465.6, finishing the week 0.5 per cent higher. It was an encouraging turnaround from falls of over 2 per cent early in the week.

The rally was broad based and underpinned by expectations that US jobs growth will remain robust in December, signalling strength in the world's biggest economy.

Steadier oil prices also gave the energy sector some relief. Brent crude edged up 27 cents to US$51.23 a barrel, but stayed near a six-year low of US$49.66 plumbed earlier in the week.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index climbed 0.2 per cent, or 10.79 points, to 5,584.84, having earlier touched a record high of 5,608.47.