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Australia: Shares rise on firm oil prices, dovish Fed minutes

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Australian shares rose for a fifth straight session on Friday, in a broad-based rally buoyed by what investors saw as the dovish minutes of the US Federal Reserve's last meeting.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares rose for a fifth straight session on Friday, in a broad-based rally buoyed by what investors saw as the dovish minutes of the US Federal Reserve's last meeting.

The minutes from the Sept. 16-17 meeting published on Thursday pointed to a deeply cautious Fed - even before news of a sharp slowdown in hiring by US employers.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.9 per cent or 49.7 points to 5,260.1 by 0138 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.2 per cent to 5,112.1 in the previous session and is on track for its second weekly gain.

Analysts expect the ASX 200 to trade in a range of 4,900-5,300 in the absence of fresh catalysts. "It the perception that easier Fed policy means a weaker US dollar and that helps emerging markets like China to grow,"said Damien Boey, equity strategist, Credit Suisse. "I'm not sure that we've seen the end of the problems for China yet but none the less, that's what investors seem to be pricing in." Major banks ANZ rose 1.22 per cent, while NAB was up 0.5 per cent. Mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton gained nearly 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. "The gains have been driven by the resources sectors...they've been the first to bounce in this relief rally," Boey said.

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A rise in world oil prices boosted energy stocks. Beach Energy jumped 13.2 per cent while Santos gained 4.8 per cent and Woodside Petroleum was up 1.23 per cent.

Asian shares followed Wall Streets lead as well as a climb in oil prices.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.6 per cent or 34.9 points to 5,660.67, to be up 1.1 per cent for the week.

Resistance was found at 5,668, a key retracement level tested on Thursday. A sustained break would target the September high of 5,725.89.

Telecommunications and utilities underpinned gains with Spark New Zealand, Mighty River Power and Contact Energy up around 1 per cent.

A2 Milk was the top outperformer with its share price up 4 per cent. It climbed to its highest in seven weeks after it announced the completion of a share placement.

The stock is up around 30 per cent so far this year.

Shares in Fonterra's fund, which provides investor exposure to the farmer-owned dairy exporter, managed to gain 1.3 per cent for the week, having recovered from a trade agreement between 12 Asia-Pacific nations that was less generous to the dairy industry than expected.

REUTERS

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