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Australian shares rise, post biggest weekly gain in 2 months; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended higher for a fourth straight session on Friday, posting their biggest weekly gain in 2 months, as the US Federal Reserve's signal to go easy on rate increases next year and in 2018 buoyed investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1.1 per cent higher, or 56.84 points, at 5,431.30, led by financials.

The 'Big Four' Australian banks gained between 0.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent, underpinned by the Fed's move to maintain a low-interest rate environment that has helped sustain the bull market for stocks since the global financial crisis.

The benchmark rose 2.5 per cent on the week, snapping five straight weeks of losses.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index nudged 0.2 per cent lower, or 14.97 points, to end at 7,296.74.

The benchmark was up 0.6 per cent on the week.

Orion Health Group hit a five-month closing low to end down 5.2 per cent.